How the new F1 rules have changed front wings
Formula 1 regulatory changes for 2022 have had a significant impact on the design of the front wings. The FIA has insisted on a stricter regulatory framework to avoid any complex concept that might undermine the basis on which the rules are drawn (ie encouraging track battles by reducing aero turbulence).
Already in recent years, measures have been taken to clean the front wing from devices that create wash (separation of air flow to the outside) such as cascade elements. limited to four.
Care has also been taken to reduce the impact of the joint between the covers and the end plate. This is to limit any eddies that may be formed by the upward curved passage and cracks extending into this region. Slip is always allowed on the outer surface of the plate, but its dimensions and geometry are very limited.
The Y250 vortex, a powerful and well-known aerodynamic structure that was introduced as part of the 2009 rules overhaul and remained in place despite changes in 2014, 2017 and 2019, has also been eliminated.
Along with the aforementioned limitations, this reduced the front wing’s role as a flow conditioning device and revived its primary role as a means of balancing the front and rear of the vehicle. This is not to say that teams have given up on using a front wing to reduce drag created by the nose gear and/or to promote downstream gain to other aerodynamic surfaces.
A look at the early designs and developments throughout the season shows that things are definitely headed in that direction and gives a glimpse of how things could evolve in 2023.
Red Bull RB18 end plate comparison.
Red Bull began its campaign with a simpler fin before switching to an “S”-shaped variant at the Australian Grand Prix (red arrow).
Red Bull Racing RB18 front wing comparison.
Red Bull’s settings also factored in the distribution of lugs depending on the level of rear support used.
Ferrari F1-75 front wing.
As seen here on the Ferrari front wing, the teams had to find the best compromise in terms of the spacing of the adjustable section of the upper wings, which also affects the flow conditioning of the distribution between the static outer sections. potential.
Comparison of Mercedes W13 end plates.
Mercedes introduced a new solution at the Miami Grand Prix, in which the joints between the cover and the end plate are mounted further forward than seen elsewhere on the grid.
Mercedes W13 final number in Miami.
To aid its design, the flaps had a much more curved relationship with the endplate, sloping steeply back to expose the bottom and rear of the endplate to the airflow.
This solution offered more washing potential than other options seen on the grid, and so the FIA banned this design for 2023 and beyond.
Mercedes W13 front fender comparison.
As part of a major aero overhaul for the British Grand Prix, the designers also changed the height at which the fin was mounted.
Spoiler ahead of Mercedes in Mexico.
Mercedes attempted to introduce the new splitter system at the Mexican Grand Prix, but other teams and the FIA were concerned about the aerodynamic effects of the system, first seen at the US Grand Prix.
Alpine A522 front wing.
Alpine’s front wing was arguably the most compact on the grid. The structure chose to reduce the gap between the front and back sides of the fin while maintaining a constant chord length throughout.
He also adjusted the aileron downforce by reducing the size of the Gurney on the trailing edge of the flap, seen in this picture with a full-length example.
Alpine A522 front plate.
The team made changes to the final plate during the Spanish Grand Prix. The leading edge has been given the wavy finish (highlighted in yellow) already seen on the Haas, while the shape of the bottom plate section has also been more curved (red arrow).
Alfa Romeo C42 front wing comparison.
Alfa Romeo made significant changes to its front wing during the Japanese Grand Prix, with the team changing the distribution of the adjustable and non-adjustable parts of the flaps.
The new design (left) had a narrower interior, which allowed for more cap adjustment, thus aiding better balance when changing configurations. The backcut (blue arrow) has been removed, the endplate design has also been revised (in bubbles) and the ratio between each flap has also changed (yellow highlight).
The front wing of the Aston Martin AMR22.
Aston Martin experienced one of its most transformative development periods in 2022, as the team changed its aerodynamic concept at the start of the season. However, the front wing remained relatively intact throughout the season, with the team resorting to different upper wing geometries to tune the front and rear of the car.
Haas VF-22 front wing.
Haas had some interesting ideas when it came to the design of the front wingtip, as the team not only adopted a wavy finish on the leading edge, but also added a “backbone”.
Haas VF-22 front wing.
While the undulating surface of the endplate’s leading edge was retained on the VF-22 and carried over to Alpine’s design DNA, the wishbone fin was dropped for a simpler and curvier version during the French Grand Prix.
The nose of the AlphaTauri AT03
AlphaTauri made a significant change to the nose design at the Singapore Grand Prix, which included changes to the design of the inner elements of the front wing.
Initially, these elements exposed the lower part of the nose to the air flow, which was a characteristic of the car. However, the new design followed in the footsteps of its rivals and saw the mother plane lowered to nose level.
AlphaTauri AT03 front fender
This photo of the two solutions, seen from below, shows that the effect on airflow will be very different because the main plane is lower and forms a peak in the middle.
Williams FW44 front fender comparison.
Williams made significant changes to the FW44 during the British GP, particularly the front wing. The changes revolve around the valve stem and bend, which have been modified to unlock the potential of the surrounding surfaces and improve flow control.