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Mercedes / Red Bull setup splits as F1 title battle intensifies – Motorsports

And, like any other war, there are casualties and failures along the way, and both teams try their best to hide each other’s retaliation efforts.

In Russia, the skirmish revolved around engine penalties as Red Bull chose to take Max Verstappen’s grid drop by installing a power unit to replace what was lost in the British Grand Prix crash with Lewis Hamilton.

Knowing that the Dutch driver was starting from behind and heading to qualifying had a major impact on the team’s setu-p choices for the rest of the weekend.

Verstappen has properly adopted the downforce front and rear wing configurations compared to Sergio Perez. This is because starting from the rear clearly means that you need to overtake the car throughout the race.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B Rear Wing Detail

The difference between the two cars is clear: Verstappen’s RB16B wing section occupies much less space in the permissible box area. In addition, the complex wing tip vortex change elements found in the end plate of Perez were missing.

The lower downforce arrangement of the Verstappen car had a gurney flap on the trailing edge of the upper flap to improve balance. This is very similar to the setup the team used in Baku.

Red Bull RB16B Front Wing Comparison

Red Bull RB16B Front Wing Comparison

There was a subtle difference between the two front wings attached to both RB16Bs. The team was trying to balance the front and back of the car, depending on each driver’s rear wing setup.

Mercedes experiment

Mercedes has begun a practice program with drivers of different aerodynamic configurations, as it has done in several races so far this season.

This gives the team more data about where to go on the weekend of the race, but as the weekend progresses, driver pairings often continue to follow different routes.

More often, Lewis Hamilton sticks to a lower downforce configuration compared to Barteribotta.

Mercedes AMG F1 Rear Wing Comparison

Mercedes AMG F1 Rear Wing Comparison

Photo courtesy of: Giorgio Piora

In Russia, both drivers started the program with a lower downforce rear wing before Bottas switched to a higher downforce configuration that both drivers perform during qualifying and racing.

The high downforce wings (marked as botta) have a large central V-shaped groove and edge cutouts to reduce the drag generated.

Comparison of Mercedes W12 front wing

Comparison of Mercedes W12 front wing

Interestingly, Mercedes also tried the revised front wing of Hamilton’s car during FP1 (above). The shape of the upper flap is different.

As you can see from the dotted line, the new top flap design plunges further where it meets the non-adjustable outboard section. This seems like a test with future races in mind, as the team chose not to race the design.

McLaren Wing Focus

McLaren continues to impress this season, winning a one-to-two at Monza, leading most of the Russian Grand Prix testimony to that progress.

McLaren MCL35M rear wing, Russian GP
McLaren MCL35M rear wing, Italian GP

The two venues, just two weeks apart, also had very different characteristics and required different downforce requirements.

The team’s high downforce placement (left) was used in Russia, while a one-time low downforce configuration was installed on the Monza MCL35M.

As you can see, there are dramatic differences in the size of the wing sections, much less permissible box area used in low downforce setups, and significantly reduced angles of attack.

– Motorsports

Mercedes / Red Bull setup splits as F1 title battle intensifies

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