#F1 Forensic: Newey and Ricciardo wins at Wolff’s den

Brought to you by TheJudge13 Technical Analyst: Lorenzo De Luca

Newey and Ricciardo wins at Wolff’s den

Simply perfect, this is the adjective which better describe the performance delivered by Red Bull and Daniel Ricciardo at Spa. No one saw it coming, especially after the dominance showed on Saturday by both Mercedes. Despite the Belgian track favouring the Mercedes powered team, the second sector of the track mixed up the field, forcing teams to choose between speed and downforce. At the end, the cars with the best aerodynamic efficiency as shown by Red Bull and Mercedes dominated .

Red Bull winning card

The Spa-Francorchamps track features very long straights, on which the power unit efficiency and a low drag setup is crucial to have a high top speed – to clock competitive times. The RB10 is fitted with an underpowered unit and Newey & Co. have given thought to shorten the gear ratios to gain traction (useful to build a little gap out of the La Source corner and the Bus Stop chicane) which combined with the new skinny rear wing has made the RB10 a very fast car on the straights, delegating to the chassis and rear diffuser the task to generate downforce in the middle sector.

Red Bull low drag rear wing:


The new rear wing introduced by Red Bull at Spa has a mainplane that was almost neutral and a flap with a low incidence, notice the missing slot on the endplate and the little nodule on the trailing edge.

Red Bull front wing comparison:


To emphasize the aerodynamic qualities of the RB10 rear end, we can just take a look at the front wing, Red Bull engineers brought two options in Belgium, one for more downforce, the other one for less drag. Despite having chosen two configurations diametrically opposed to the front and rear axles, the RB10 has shown an optimal balance. And just a reliability issue prevented a potential double (Vettel ran with an old and not updated power unit ).

Mercedes looking for the perfect balance

Rosberg’s mistake prevented another easy weekend for Mercedes, the W05 demonstrating again a big gap to the competition throughout the weekend; but at Brackley engineers are still pushing on the car’s development. At Spa, we saw another new aero package : new rear wing, new nose and new turning vanes.

Mercedes rear wing:


Mercedes chose a medium downforce setup, the rear wing, as we can see has a leading edge which is rather marked, while the DRS flap has been reduced in its height, and now has a a three arched design. For the race, in order to increase the top speed, the nodule has been removed.

Mercedes monkey seat:


Combined with the new rear wing and the medium downforce package – it has been used, for the first time, a one element monkey seat (tested in Silverstone).

Mercedes new brake ducts:


There were also big innovations on the front end of the car, with the revised brake ducts, which now show a new flow diverter.

Mercedes turning vanes:


Also new were the under chassis turning vanes, now with four elements and with three slots whereas previously there were three elements and only two slot.

Mercedes new nosecone:


The biggest news on the W05, was without doubt the new nosecone. Indeed the new one, has a more concave design on its underside so as to increase the passage of more air beneath it. Its design also removes weight from the front end to allow the transfer of weight to the rear through ballast. Since the start of the season, Mercedes engineers have removed almost 8kgs of weight, in order to achieve a better balance on the car, thus allowing the movement of the ballast depending on the needs of the driver for each track.

Mercedes weight distribution:



Ferrari a revolutionary PU element arrangement

The F14-T is without doubt making a little progress thanks to the updates (most of them on the power unit software) introduced on the car. Despite having finished the race a considerable distance behind Mercedes or Red Bull, Ferrari could take heart with the performance of the car. For sure the biggest important update on the F14-T was the insulation of the exhaust manifolds, which gave Ferrari at least 15 bhp.

Ferrari 059/3 exhaust manifolds:


The insulation, most likely a fiberglass material, helps to reduce the heat loss and hence energy of the exhaust gases, which translates into more energy that can be recovered through the MGU-H. During the summer break, it was also rumoured that Ferrari had chosen to apply a special “paint” on the exhaust – a solution which was originally exploited last year by Red Bull on the RB9 in Singapore. With a ceramic coating (Zircotec) it kept the exhaust gases energized in order to amplify the Coanda effect.

But there were also aerodynamic updates specific for Spa with new wings.

Ferrari medium downforce front wings:


This new wing differs from the previous one with a smaller upper flap to reduce the drag, also notice how it does not rejoin the lower flap.

Ferrari Monza spec front wing:


During practice, Ferrari also tested a new cascade-less front wing for low downforce tracks (like Monza).

Ferrari rear wing:


Also new was the rear wing, the new one showed a reduced leading edge and DRS flap and just three slots on the endplate with the single support pylon and no monkey seat.

Ferrari engine cover:


Due the low ambient temperatures the F14-T had been fitted with the tightest engine cover solution which had been introduced in Canada.

Ferrari 059/3 PU element displacement:


During the season there have been many rumors about the Power Unit displacement. During the last week, rumors emerged reporting interesting news about the location of the MGU-K being placed inside the gearbox spacer in addition to the oil tank.

This particular placement has led to a distribution of the weights which is far from the center of gravity of the car (unlike Mercedes). The intention was to extend the wheelbase of the car, to favor the aerodynamic direction (more tapered side pods, and tighter ‘coke-bottle’ section). These innovative solutions can be seen such as the intercooler being placed in the middle of Vee.

Mclaren developments works

Mclaren, as Ferrari, have shown good signs of competitiveness, the latest updates brought to Belgium seemed to work well – especially on the long straights – thanks to a new floor, rear diffuser and rear wing designed to work at their best with the single arm mushroom rear suspension.

Mclaren rear diffuser:


Mclaren introduced a new rear diffuser, the new design is to help recover downforce when using half of the mushroom suspension. This clearly shows a Mercedes inspired solution and in its central section we can see a “U” profile to help the diffuser expansion.

Mclaren rear wing:


The most interesting update was the rear wing, as we can see now we have a spoon shaped main plane with a rather big leading edge. Also notice the tubercles kept on the leading edge of the DRS flap. On the endplate now we have only three slots and the strakes have been removed.

Lotus endless reliability issues

Even Lotus at Spa brought some updates as seen with the new low downforce rear wing

Lotus rear wing:


The new rear wing, with very low incidence and a main plane which is almost neutral, had only two slots on the endplate. But for sure the most interesting thing was the engine cover, asymmetrical as always, but much more evident

Lotus outlet exhaust:


The left side is almost twice the size of the right side as this incorporates the intercooler, but signs of critical reliability related issues have not yet been fixed. This solution, on a track like Spa, where all the teams looked for aero efficiency proved to be a very disadvantageous choice.

Caterham new nose


Caterham new nose:


On the CT05 we saw a different nosecone, the new one was changed by modifying the vanity panel to channel a more energized airflow towards the rear diffuser.

Finally, these are the top speed reached at the end of the Kemmel straight – at Spa we have reached 345 km\h, at Monza we should expect 360-370 km\h.


27 responses to “#F1 Forensic: Newey and Ricciardo wins at Wolff’s den

  1. What did ferrari do to kimi ‘ s car, that is the big question. Not only was he fast but he was fast on tires wich lasted for a half race.

    • The truth is that with medium tires Kimi struggled a lot, more than his teammate. But the secret was that they run with more down force that helped the tires lasting a bit more

    • Well, the increased downforce he ran helped him keep the tyres in… and he would have beaten Alonso even without the penalty, as he successfully undercut all the cars in front with both stops from the increased tyre life.

      Only Bottas outfoxed him, keeping back tyre life to attack at the end and pass successfully.

  2. Excellent stuff!
    Can’t wait to see what the Mercedes looks like in low drag configuration at Monza – I think we’ve already seen the RB.

  3. @Lorenzo

    The exhaust insulation on the F14T looks like Aluminium over ceramic. Regular fibreglass becomes soft at 1000°, and with a coating it can extended to about 1200°, but it becomes brittle and degraded. Turbo exhaust temps are going to be in excess of 1500°. The MR03 covering looks a amorphous silica tape, this is rated to 2000° continuous.

    For me the most interesting technical observation from Spa, was the change of aero direction at Red Bull. In the past it always appeared to be ‘down-force at all costs’. The Renault PU seems to have made significant progress.

  4. Thanks for the article Lorenzo. I do have a question about weight distribution. You are suggesting that Mercedes moved weight to the rear and indicate the car is 8 kg lighter for this race; the regulation minimum weight with driver is 691 kg, but also a minimum weight requirement at the front of 314 kg and minimum at the rear of 370 kg. The total mandated weight front/rear is then 684 kg. If the car is at minimum weight that leaves 7 kg to play with, which isn’t a lot. What ballast amount are you suggesting is being moved to the rear? Is the car at minimum weight? If it’s not at minimum weight it seems ballast wouldn’t be added as that would increase lap times.

    • @Gomer, the car is 8Kg lighter compared to the start of the season, not 8Kg lighter compared to the previous race.

      What amount of ballast has been moved to the rear ? It’s hard to tell, from the new nosecone they removed some weight, but this does not mean that they added more weight to the rear, basically they made the front end lighter in order to have a rear end heavier to improve traction . I don’t think they already reached the minimum weight of 691Kg

  5. Lorenzo, just one quick question.

    Any particular reasons for some of the large speed differences between teammates? (Alonso>Kimi 17kph, Magnussen>Button 10kph, RB,STR)

    Surely even passing back markers most (if not everyone) should have hit the top of their rev limiter during DRS on the Kemmel straight (presumably built into the ERS mapping for the lap also).

    Thanks for your time

    • Probably no one has hit their rev limiter. The maximum revs this year are 15,000 but fuel flow is constant above 10,500 revs. I think the most revs you will see are about 12,500 as there is no point in pushing the engine without more fuel; horsepower is effectively torque over time (think back to your calculus). The gearboxes are 8 speed this year and most cars aren’t even using the top gear. Bottom line, the rev limit is not an issue; actual power is.

    • Kimi was running with more downforce compared to Alonso, that explains part of the difference, I don’t think the difference is in anyway linked with the rev of the engines, I do think that most of those drivers exploited DRS + multi slipstreams (Alonso-Vettel-Button-Magnussen)

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