Tech analysis: How Red Bull was third quickest at Monza
For low-downforce circuits such as Spa and Monza, teams introduce track-specific front and rear-wings in order to dramatically reduce drag and therefore boost top speeds.
This is even more important for a team such as Red Bull, which is running Renault’s power unit, known to be down on horsepower compared to rivals Ferrari and Mercedes. Therefore Red Bull must trim its wings to ensure it doesn’t lose too much time on Monza’s long straights.
The changes, outlined below, seem to have done their job, with Daniel Ricciardo posting the third fastest speed trap of 355.2 km/h, just 2 km/h off the Mercedes-powered Force India of Sergio Perez, fastest through the speed trap.
With the rear-wing producing a large percentage of the car’s drag (around 30 per cent), Red Bull has had to drastically reduce both the angle of attack (AoA) and chord length. A lower AoA reduces the wing’s frontal area and therefore directly cuts drag, and in doing so the chord length can be shortened to produce less lift.
Such is the shallowness of the wing that the usual horizontal louvres are no longer cut into the endplate to reduce tip vortices (right).
To ensure the car remains balanced, changes must also be made at the front end. The RB13’s front-wing donned a slender upper flap configuration. Interestingly, this setup was run in conjunction with the T-wing, although this is perhaps unsurprising given that it provides a very tiny (but virtually drag-free) amount of downforce and helps connect the rear aero-structure together by entwining vortexes together. It’s sort of a rear stabiliser in a sense.
Further to the track-specific aero package, both cars ran with revised front-wing endplates throughout the weekend. These were first seen in Canada and have since appeared on the car at other low-drag circuits such as Baku, Spa and then Monza.
The changes focus on shaping the air around the endplate’s vertical leading edge and under the footplate – the horizontal plate that all of the wing’s elements connect with (top). This will alter the shape and intensity of the large vortex produced by the front-wing/endplate that is projected around the outside of the front-tyre to improve the car’s efficiency.
To position and control the vortex in a more efficient manner, the bodywork must be adjusted to alter the pressure gradient along the wing. This has been done by setting the leading edge of the arched part of the footplate back slightly to make way for a slot in the endplate, introducing air inside of the fence below the cascade winglet.
Detailed modifications were also made to the RB13’s floor near the trailing edge of the bargeboard (below). Having started the season with a large cutout in this region, Red Bull have aligned themselves with the rest of field by filling in the void and creating a lipped periphery. For Belgium, carried over to Monza, a small Gurney flap has now been installed above the lip to further entice the flow out from beneath.
Small optimisations like these have helped the team run their trademark high rake angle for years, and it is the culmination of these intricate updates that will help close the gap to the benchmark Mercedes and Ferrari this year.