It was no different with the new generation of 2022 cars, but the Belgian Grand Prix revealed some of the RB18’s key strengths as it appeared to be quick on the straights but didn’t compromise its pace in the second winding sector.

Red Bull also had some new parts for Belgium to help improve its performance. The largest of these modifications was made in the transition in the body between the side parts and the engine cover, and also led to the re-profiling of the lower transverse fairing on the rear suspension.

The bodywork change results in a more convex surface, increasing the volume underneath (red arrow, inset), while changing the passage of the airflow to the outside in motion, which would seem to be a compromise between cooling and aerodynamic performance.

The changes made to the lower arm are minor and do not require any structural changes internally.

The Red Bull also has an indentation in the floor above the diffuser to allow for the necessary lever travel given its general proximity to the surface (small inset, blue arrow).

Another change made by the team to the mirrors was not featured in the car’s presentation documentation, probably given that it is such a minor change from a visual perspective.

Red Bull Racing RB18 Mirrors Comparison

Photo: Giorgio Piola

However, the changes made to the side mirror trim will have some aerodynamic benefits.

Stretching the lower part of the fairing under the main mirror housing (which has also been shortened, blue arrow) will change the airflow response not only directly, but also to the passage of the airflow around the mirror housing.

However, it wasn’t just about new parts for Red Bull, there was another interesting side story: in Belgium, Verstappen and Perez used different floor characteristics.

The Mexican preferred the specification first introduced at Silverstone and then again in Austria before it was unceremoniously abandoned.

Red Bull Racing RB18 floor comparison

Red Bull Racing RB18 floor comparison

Photo: Giorgio Piola

The floor has a Ferrari-like design, with a cut-out at the edge of the floor and a tongue-like section protruding from it.

Verstappen, perhaps feeling it didn’t provide the same performance for his needs, didn’t use the floor spec all weekend.

The Ferrari had a new, lower downforce, rear wing and wing spar available. However, after evaluating it during the second free practice, he decided not to use it for the rest of the weekend.

It’s a tactic Ferrari has seen in the past, when it introduced elements with lower downforce, with the Scuderia instead opting to improve its performance in the second sector of Spa, as well as help with tire degradation during the race.

Ferrari F1-75 rear wing comparison, Belgian GP

Ferrari F1-75 rear wing comparison, Belgian GP

Photo: Giorgio Piola

Regardless of the decision not to race with the new rear wing, it will most likely make a reappearance in the coming races.

The new spec takes up much less space in the box section, which is acceptable, and virtually eliminates the spoon-shaped valve design that is common in these new regulations, thanks to the transition of the end plate.

Mercedes arrived at the Belgian Grand Prix after the summer break optimistic that they would be able to challenge at the sharp end, especially with the title’s two protagonists starting further back from penalties.

However, it soon became apparent that his drivers would struggle with a car that seemed to have too much drag on a track that demanded aerodynamic efficiency.

In addition, the problems he faced with tire warm-up during the opening half of the season were also evident, with the Mercedes pair unable to warm their rubber enough for one lap.

At the Belgian Grand Prix, the team made further changes as revised front and rear wings were deployed, while further optimizations were made to the floor, including the fenders and edge wing.

Mercedes W13 floor comparison (arrow)

Mercedes W13 floor comparison (arrow)

Photo: Giorgio Piola

The floor was an area where the team looked to improve its performance, with the latest change focusing on optimizing the relationship between the front of the floor and the ‘wing edge’.

Like some other teams on the grid, Mercedes settled on a wing with a long edge that now runs almost the entire length of the permitted area. This is reversed at the very front to help with pulling, where the more oblique part takes up space at the back.

Both have been modified, with the inverted section now having only one flow diverter instead of the three previously (red arrows).

The sweep was then narrowed (see yellow line for reference) as the floor next to it was reshaped, while the rear of the floor and wing edge were trimmed, creating a sort of taper in front of the rear. a tire that became commonplace under the 2021 regulations (see green line for reference).

Additional modifications were made to the floor fences (blue arrow) to work more effectively with the changes made both upstream and downstream, with the secondary fence height increased and the top edge of the boundary modified.

Interestingly, Hamilton decided not to use the new floor for qualifying and the race, going back to the old parts.

Not mentioned in Mercedes’ submission to the car’s presentation documentation earlier this weekend, the team also added triangular extensions for the top surface of the halo (black arrow), a design we’ve seen elsewhere and will no doubt help force airflow as it moves down around the engine cover and side stand body.

Mercedes W13 rear wing
Mercedes W13 clipped rear wing

Clearly suffering from a shortage of resistance compared to its rivals, Mercedes actually introduced changes it hoped would help at Spa-Francorchamps.

But instead of introducing an entirely new assembly, the designers set about improving the wing’s power by making changes to the wing tip and upper flap.

The W13 edge plate is designed in such a way that the profile of the wing can be changed according to the desired load generated by the wing.

In this case, the team decided to completely fill the void (red arrow, left image), a trick we’ve already seen Alpine use earlier in the season as it also sought to adjust the force of the vortex coming off the wing tip. .

A lower downforce top flap option was also tested by the clipped flap team (red arrows, right image) but was abandoned as it did not appear to provide the required offset between the first and final higher speed and low speed sectors required in the second sectors.

Alpine A522 floor fence comparison (green highlight)

Alpine A522 floor fence comparison (green highlight)

Photo: Giorgio Piola

Alpine continues to progress with the A522, once again optimizing the package.

For the Belgian Grand Prix, the team continued to modify the front part of the floor and its transition with the extreme protection of the floor. As you can see in the comparison picture, with the new design on the left side, the floor has been pinched inward around the shoulder.

This will not only affect the external airflow and connection to the fence, but will also determine how the airflow passes through the floor tunnel, changing the connection to the fences as they turn to the edge of the floor.

Alpine A522 Rear Brake Duct Comparison

Alpine A522 Rear Brake Duct Comparison

Photo: Giorgio Piola

The team also made changes to the design of the rear brake duct, continuing to look for ways to balance the cooling requirements with the aerodynamic requirements.

The change reflects the sentiment among the rest of the grid, with most teams opting to place the inlet on the inner face of the brake duct fence (blue arrow) rather than having their own inlet scoop (red arrow), which is a decision we’re more used to seeing at the front of the car.

The new solution collects the airflow as it passes between the fence and the sidewall of the tire and directs it into various ducts connected inside, some of which have been changed as part of the upgrade.

Meanwhile, the absence of a scoop means that any vanes on the outer surface of the fence will be less obstructed and can even be optimized later to further improve performance.

Alfa Romeo C42 Belgian GP rear wing
Alfa Romeo Racing C42 rear detail

Alfa Romeo introduced a new design of the rear wing for the challenges that arose at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, with the aim of reducing downforce and therefore drag.

The wing has what can be considered a more conventional spoon-shaped design used in these rules to accommodate the transition to the end plate, which is flattened.

However, the biggest change from the conventional design came in the shape of the upper endplate transition, with a panel cut diagonally across the front down to the wing cutout.

The team also had one of its normal spec wings on hand with the trailing edge of the top flap trimmed back, perhaps as a fallback if its first choice didn’t offer the performance it was hoping for (image right).

To facilitate the DRS mechanism, the team had to leave the center part of the wing at normal height.

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