Nowhere to hide from F1’s latest technical tweaks in Bahrain test

Day two of pre-season Formula 1 testing in Bahrain is in the books, and with all the cars with nowhere to hide, there are plenty of interesting details for us to discover.

There was a lot of aerodynamic rake action in the early doors, just like on the first day, with teams using that time just as the session starts to get in some steady speed runs before getting into the thick of the action.

Mercedes W14

Photo by: George Piola

McLaren MCL60 detail

Photo by: George Piola

The rakes used contain a series of keel probes that measure the pressure in the surrounding flow field, the data from which can be used to check the correlation between the real environment and the teams’ simulation tools.

As you can see, just like car designs, the aero rakes all serve different purposes. Mercedes, for example, had rakes set up ahead of the rear wheels and coke bottle area on the W14, with the keel probes all positioned in a uniform fashion.

McLaren’s rakes, at least in this case, were slightly wider and mounted in the midriff of the car, around the sidepods and airbox, while the rake itself also has its own features that set it apart from the others.

Alpine A523 rear wing detail

Photo by: George Piola

Alpine has made significant changes to the rear of its car this season, with the move to a pushrod rear suspension having a knock-on effect on packaging and aerodynamic choices.

This angle allows us to see some of the suspension details mounted atop the crash structure and in the rear cooling outlet, while also giving us a generous view of the twin-beam wing setup and tightly rounded diffuser corners.

Also note the thermal strips attached to the Y-Lon rear wing strut that will help the team monitor temperatures in that region.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Red Bull Racing’s RB19, with flo-viz paint applied to the front wishbones, down the side of the chassis and sidepods, as the team looks for visual confirmation that the airflow is behaving as intended.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Ferrari took a similar approach, albeit spraying flo-viz paint on the rear suspension, floor and Coke bottle area (above).

Ferrari SF-23 brake detail

Photo by: George Piola

The SF-23 also features a solution that many of Ferrari’s rivals had adopted as far back as 2022, whereby the brake disc now has its own housing in the main brake drum to help more concisely control the passage of heat and airflow around the assembly.

Alfa Romeo C43 detail

Photo by: George Piola

The Alfa Romeo C43 without the sidepod and hood body not only illustrates the work done to package the internal components – such as radiators, coolers and electronics – it is also a visual lesson on how teams don’t shrink wrap the components all the places they had in the past.

The void seen behind the radiators is more about heat dissipation, airflow throughput and perhaps more importantly, the ability to shape the external bodywork for aerodynamic reasons.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

This shot of the Mercedes W14 allows us to appreciate several aspects of the car’s design, including the wedge-shaped body fitted to the chassis around the front suspension, directing airflow to the surfaces behind, while the squarer sidepod intake but wider topline of the sidepod is also noticeable.

This front part of the sidepod now merges into the wider, sloping body of the sidepod, while the plank-like bonnet, complete with gutter, is a feature Mercedes has exaggerated for 2023.

Interestingly, the amount of tight lines in the W14’s body suggests a high level of modularity, meaning any future changes are relatively easy to implement.

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