Feature F1 Unlocked
TECH TUESDAY: Analysing Red Bull's significant bodywork upgrade brought to Hungary
Red Bull’s second significant bodywork upgrade of the season appeared at the Hungaroring and it was based around a new radiator inlet shape which rearranged the aerodynamics around the whole upper bodywork.
The update was reported to be worth around 0.2s in simulation but this was the first time since Baku that a Red Bull had not sat on pole – though Verstappen missed it by only 0.003s.
The new inlet is lower and wider, just as the previous one was lower and wider than the original. The sidepod panel around it is accordingly wider too. The new aspect ratio of the inlet has increased the air pressure into the radiator inlet and this has enabled an increase in cooling efficiency and more downforce creation as a result.
Through speeding up the cooling air flow (increasing the total volume of air passing over the radiators) the cooling capacity is increased as the heat in the radiators is absorbed by the passing air. If the radiator size has also been increased within that wider bodywork top, it would increase the cooling capacity further.
Although for years teams have been minimising radiator sizes and the bodywork width around them, this generation of ground effect cars has seen the evolution of that aerodynamic philosophy. It is becoming clear now that there is an aerodynamic advantage in having the upper bodywork above the undercut wider than before.
The additional static pressure that surfaces creates makes the airflow through the undercut and between the rear wheels more robust as the car changes direction, moving across the oncoming air, or when it is in a state of yaw (the difference between the angle the car is pointing at and the direction of travel).
It would appear that this latest update has allowed Red Bull to have both better cooling and better aerodynamics.
One of the reasons it may have missed out on pole to Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes despite Red Bull’s theoretical 0.2s gain from the update could be connected with the relative bodywork cooling levels chosen by each team.
The cooling gills atop the sidepod are quite aerodynamically damaging when opened as the hot extracted air interferes with the downforce-creating airflow. But the cooling demands around a relatively slow circuit on a very hot day were immense.
Red Bull appeared to have all five of the available cooling gills open whereas Mercedes ran with only two open. This would help the Merc’s pace in qualifying but would mean running the power unit more conservatively in the race.
Certainly, Verstappen didn’t seem to be suffering any impediment as he took Red Bull’s historic 12th consecutive victory by the margin of over half-a-minute.