Technical F1 Unlocked
TECH TUESDAY: Has Aston Martin’s Canadian GP upgrade made them a genuine threat to Red Bull?
The Aston Martin which Fernando Alonso took to second place in Montreal, just nine seconds behind the winning Red Bull of Max Verstappen, featured a heavily updated sidepod arrangement.
The AMR23’s sidepod arrangement – with its deep ‘waterslide’ channel on its upper surface – was already highly distinctive. The new bodywork retains the same basic layout but with an enhanced undercut in the front-lower edges of the sidepods, while the ‘waterslide’ feature has been narrowed and deepened.
The undercut and waterslide work in unison in accelerating the airflow towards the rear of the car. The two airflows merge to create a more powerful stream of air directed between the rear wheels, where it flows over and around the walls of the diffuser, increasing the performance of the underfloor.
As the airflow from the undercut makes its way there, it passes the various cut-outs along the floor’s edges, which trigger vortices – helping to seal the floor.
The undercut creates a lower air pressure behind which the oncoming air rushes to fill. Anything enhancing that pressure difference – such as exaggerating the undercut – will be deemed desirable. Similarly, narrowing and deepening the waterslide on the sidepod’s upper surface will energise that flow.
Aston Martin’s Technical Director Dan Fallows accepted that the sidepod alterations were a big visual change, but he was playing down its significance. “Physically it’s a very big update,” he said, “but there are things less visible we’ve done to the car before now which are also quite significant.
“We are trying to put consistent development on the car rather than wait for a few races then have a big update. This is not necessarily the biggest update we’ve put on the car in terms of performance.
“The sidepods are flow-tuning features, conditioning the airflow to the rear of the car, but it also helps the floor to work as well. The philosophy we’ve adopted – which we are seeing being adopted across the grid – is something which helps this concept of floor to work as well. In itself, maybe the actual performance increase of the bodywork on its own is not all that much, but it helps everything else to work.
“We try to improve the operating window of the car. We can see there are some circuits we are weaker or stronger and we want to try to make it so its driveable and useable on as many circuits as we can.”
With a variety of differently configured circuits on the horizon – Austria’s Red Bull Ring, Great Britain’s Silverstone and Hungary’s Hungaroring are next up – it will be fascinating to see whether Aston Martin can continue to chip away at the advantage that has seen Red Bull win all eight races so far this year.