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Formula 1

Gary Anderson on a “confusing” new Alfa wing

by Matt Beer
2 min read

Alfa Romeo introduced a new front wing at the second Formula 1 test. The design is all-new and some of it is confusing.

The outboard end of Alfa Romeo’s original front wing has always run with the minimum angle on the flaps and I believed this was because the outer part of the main plane was too close to the ground and created a very ground-sensitive front wing package.

To reduce this, Alfa Romeo then ended up running a very shallow flap angle – the shallowest in the pitlane.

This front wing set-up, with its main plane being in close proximity to the ground, made it difficult to achieve a consistent balance and was why the performance from track to track was never consistent.

But the new wing will make the problem worse.

Alfa’s old wing

Alfa Romeo wing

Alfa’s new wing

Alfa Romeo new wing

Alfa Romeo has lowered a larger section of the wing so it’s even closer to the ground at the outboard end (highlighted in purple). This will mean that a higher percentage of the front downforce created by the wing will be working in what’s called ground effect.

As it gets closer to the ground, the front downforce will increase more than the rear downforce and make the car pointy in some corners. Then, when it gets just that bit closer, this section will stall – losing front downforce and inducing understeer.

Inboard of that section Alfa Romeo has actually raised the main plane.

The flap details are also different. The inboard end, where the flaps start to curve down, is just a little further inboard and of a smaller radius (circled in red). This is to work the section of the main plane that it has raised harder. You need to do this just to get the same downforce from it.

This development direction is a bit confusing and I will be surprised if it makes the car better.

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