Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis
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Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis

What's behind Red Bull's latest F1 floor tweak

Red Bull has expended considerable resources this season, adding performance to its RB16B at almost every Formula 1 race.

What's behind Red Bull's latest F1 floor tweak

One of the key areas of focus has been the floor, as it's considered an area of low hanging fruit for improving downforce after the change in FIA regulations over the winter.

The team's latest alteration came at the Belgian Grand Prix, as the angled strake nearest the Z-shaped floor cutout was given a more generous arc near the top, whilst an additional strake was placed beside it.
These changes, along with a slight alteration to the floor cut out, enhance the effect that the team is looking for and likely have played a key part in keeping it ahead of Mercedes in recent races.

To help understand Red Bull's motivation for the tweaks let's take a look at the journey it has been on so far.

2020

Red Bull Racing RB16 floor detail

Red Bull Racing RB16 floor detail

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

Red Bull was one of the teams that tried out the floor cutout in advance of the arrival of the new regulations. The RB16 was fitted with a tapered floor with two strakes ahead of the rear tyre during free practice sessions last year as the team established a baseline for performance of the new regulations.

Pre-season

Red Bull Racing RB16B floor detail

Red Bull Racing RB16B floor detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The first floor used during pre-season testing featured a similar arrangement to the one tested during 2020 with the familiar tapered edge to the floor and twin strake arrangement ahead of the rear tyre (Spec 1).

The team moved quickly though, installing a floor with the Z-shaped cutout and angle strake in the afternoon session (Spec 2), before a pair of smaller strakes appeared ahead of the outermost strake in order to help turn the flow across the rear tyre on the second day (Spec 3).

Red Bull Racing RB16B floor comparison

Red Bull Racing RB16B floor comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Red Bull turned its attention to the area just ahead of the angled strake and cut out thereafter, with the length of the scroll flaps altered at the Portuguese GP. The flaps were extended in order that they met with the strake (inset), rather than end before it.

Red Bull Racing RB16B new floor

Red Bull Racing RB16B new floor

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The team then added another new feature at the British GP, as it introduced a step ladder-like winglet which creates a nozzle that fans the airflow out ahead of the cluster of strakes that have grown up ahead of the rear tyre.

So, is this the last time we'll see Red Bull develop it floor this season? Well, there's always a chance that it could tidy things up and optimise the design of surfaces that are already in play but, with everyone now focused on their 2022 designs, it's unlikely we'll see anything too revolutionary.

Aston Martin going back

Aston Martin AMR21 floor comparison

Aston Martin AMR21 floor comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Whilst Red Bull has been adding extra weaponry to their arsenal, Aston Martin has been removing some of theirs.

The trio of fins, which had been on its floor since pre-season testing, were removed at the British Grand Prix (inset), whilst the half crescent-shaped cluster that had been added during the season remained.

In fact, just like Red Bull, Aston Martin has developed the floor of its car extensively in an effort to overturn the losses associated with the new regulations and their lower rake setup.

Aston Martin AMR21 floor development

Aston Martin AMR21 floor development

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Aston Martin has the largest floor cutout on the grid and, as a consequence, also has the most aerodynamic furniture to help correct the airflow's passage toward the rear of the car and help reduce the impact that the turbulence created by the rear tyre has on the diffuser.

The aerodynamic devices just ahead of the rear tyre have been changed the most in order to optimise how the airflow is directed around and across the rear tyre, with the six fins on the edge of the floor given a roof and an additional flapped section early on.

Then, in Portugal, an 'r' shaped cascade winglet was mounted between it and the two inner strakes (red arrow), before the flapped section was combined with the main structure as part of a larger aerodynamic upgrade package introduced in Austria.

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