Technical analysis: Spa and Monza

The last couple of F1 Grands Prix saw teams and drivers race at two iconic and ultra-fast venues, with Spa-Francorchamps and Monza rounding up the European leg of the season. Here are the latest novelties that caught the eye of F1i technical expert Nicolas Carpentiers.

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Less drag, more speed

A low-downforce rear wing reduces the carโ€™s aerodynamic drag (i.e. its resistance to airflow) and thus results in an increase in top-end speed, which is a cardinal performance factor at Monza.

This is why F1 teams used low-drag rear wings in Italy, while also adjusting their front assemblies in order to balance the downforce between rear and front. While Spa already required a low-downforce setup, Monzaโ€™s configuration was even more unique. Squads usually bring several versions of their aero components to the โ€œTemple of Speedโ€ before sampling them during Fridayโ€™s free practice sessions.

Although Sauber eventually went for a fairly regular design among the three it had at Monza (which also included the yet-to-race two-louvre version first seen in China), the C34โ€™s rear wing actually featured an intriguing main element that bent downwards on each end, in contrast to benchmark Mercedesโ€™ favoured option (see on page 3).

Ferrariโ€™s low-drag rear wing was also quite standard and came with pre-Barcelona sidepods, like it had been the case at Spa two weeks earlier. It also led to a design change on the pod housing the DRS mechanism. The SF15-Tโ€™s front wing assembly was nearly identical to the one that had been used in Belgium.

Instead of coming up with a new main board/flap arrangement like most of its rivals, Williams simply shortened its rear wingโ€™s upper flap by 3 to 4cm, which meant it sat lower than the endplates (see red arrow): a radical yet economical solution.

Fellow Mercedes-powered teams Force India and Lotus chose to have rear wings that had a slightly higher angle of incidence, knowing that their roaring PU106B power unit would make up for the increased drag.