Red Bull is usually the trendsetter when it comes to the current generation of Formula 1 cars, but the team made an unusual admission in its submission for inclusion in the official FIA upgrade document released on Friday at the Spanish Grand Prix.
It listed two upgrades, one to the floor edge and the other reprofiling the top corners of the diffuser for “greater curvature”. But the key point of interest came in the description of how it works.
“A small increase in local load towards the trailing edge of the diffuser profile in the upper corners has been extracted with a more curved profile, taking inspiration from competitor designs,” explained Red Bull.
It’s not unusual for teams to take inspiration from each other and while it might seem unusual for Red Bull to do so and admit to it, it shows there’s always something to learn from your rivals – in this case seemingly Ferrari.
Though Red Bull didn’t specify which team it was trying to emulate, close inspection of detailed images of other cars’ diffusers suggest it’s the Ferrari shape it has moved towards.
While you might imagine Red Bull would have no cause to copy Ferrari given it’s a slower car and has struggled with inconsistency, there’s always something that can be learned.
Ferrari has run a version of this diffuser shape from the start of the season. Tackling instability had been one of its areas of focus, so it may be that Red Bull has decided this diffuser subtlety is an aspect where Ferrari has been successful. Controlling underfloor airflow volumes has generally been a Ferrari strength in this rules era, with its problems coming from elsewhere.
And Adrian Newey is always happy to learn and be inspired by even the humblest of rivals, hence his tours of the grid.
After all, a good idea is a good idea.
GARY ANDERSON SAYS
No matter how many tweaks its rivals introduce, Red Bull still seems to find that little bit extra. The latest changes are to the diffuser and floor edges.
The upper outer trailing edge corners of the diffuser have been changed to a smaller radius. Personally, I am more of a fan of the larger radius as it is normally more robust when it comes to airflow separation problems.
However, the smaller radius will effectively increase the open area of the diffuser exit, meaning that it will work the underfloor harder and possibly produce more overall downforce.
This is the comparison of the two Red Bull versions as it back-to-backed the modification across the two cars in FP1, showing how the shape has changed.
We have also compared the Red Bull version to the Ferrari version. As Edd has explained above, Red Bull said it took inspiration from another team – talk about rubbing salt into a wound given how much those other teams are struggling to beat it at the moment.
The floor edge detail on the Red Bull has, if it is possible, become even more complicated. This, in effect, is the area of most bang for your buck.
Improving the sealing characteristics of this area is very important, especially at high ride heights, which equates to slow and medium-speed corners which most tracks have an abundance of.