The shift in approach to Formula 1 that helped Red Bull avenge its 2022 Brazil defeat

The shift in approach to Formula 1 that helped Red Bull avenge its 2022 Brazil defeat

Although the team has had no shortage of wins in the meantime, that does not mean it will sit back and accept a repeat of what happened at Interlagos 12 months ago which opened the door for Mercedes.

While the RB19 has significantly more competitive performance than its car last season, there are clear lessons learned from 2022 that have been applied this time around.

The most obvious from the outside is if we compare the rear wing and radial configurations of the RB18 and RB19.

They showed us a shift in approach in terms of how downforce at the rear of the car is balanced between the cross member and the rear wing – which is different to 12 months ago.

Red Bull rear wing comparison

Photo by: uncredited

Red Bull rear wing comparison

As can be seen above in the comparison image, the structure of the rear wing has actually changed this season, with a wider central extension to the main plane before tapering to a tighter transition with the end panel.

But the height of the upper flap remains constant across its extension, with the teardrop-shaped axis of the flap used to help distribute flow as the flap fuses with its open tip section. This is another new feature this season to help trade downforce and drag.

Red Bull also opted for one of its high-downforce wing configurations in 2022, and while it is still using the dual-element option this season, it’s clear to see that it was a more downforce variant.

Chief engineer Paul Monaghan said it was interesting that there appeared to be a spread of downforce levels across the pitch – but there were other elements Red Bull had changed for this year.

“There’s a reasonable spread in this area, from what I can tell, of different levels of downforce,” he said. “And if you choose to look at pictures of last year’s car and this car, it stands out pretty well.

“The exact details of how we choose to run volume are different from last year. That is our choice and you can see the consequences there.

“The changes, believe it or not, are actually very subtle. It’s not kind of: ‘Oh my God, rip everything up and start over.’

“But the nice thing is that all the theories surrounding last year’s performance here seem to have come to fruition.”

Publisher design

124-23 Red Bull Diffuser Compare

Photography: Giorgio Piola

124-23 Red Bull Diffuser Compare

As competitors continue to examine why the RB19 looks so good, there has been an increasing focus on floor and diffuser design – an area that is critical to the car’s performance.

One interesting aspect that was noted this season was the change made by Red Bull at the Spanish Grand Prix, where the upper corner of the diffuser was compressed inward (red arrow).

This was an idea inspired by what Williams did, as it showed that a team should never ignore what their slower opponents are doing as they can have some good ideas.

This idea of ​​pressure has an effect on the airflow and pressure distribution in and out of the diffuser as it flows into that corner. It also required the team to find the right geometries for not only the pinched section but also the diffuser’s sidewall and sloped roof (below).

Publisher Red Bull Racing RB19

Photography: Giorgio Piola

Publisher Red Bull Racing RB19

The change to the perimeter of the roofs can be seen in the right inset (above), with a narrower but longer expansion channel near the trailing edge.

In order to accommodate this additional volume within the diffuser, compromises had to be made on the top surface of the floor as well, with a wedge-shaped blister forming (left inset photo).

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