RACE DEBRIEF

    With just one point in the last nine rounds of 2022 compared to 51 points in the first nine rounds, Alfa Romeo are hatching a plan to get back to their best. F1 technical expert Mark Hughes looks at some upcoming changes to the C42 – with illustrations provided by Giorgio Piola.

    Alfa Romeo launched the first of a two-part upgrade in Suzuka, with a new front wing for their C42. The second part of the development – further bodywork changes which fully exploit the new wing – is expected to be seen this weekend in Austin.

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    Flap adjusters re-sited further inboard, smaller upper flaps and a cut-out at the rearward base of the endplate are the features distinguishing the C42’s new front wing from the old one.

    It is very late in the season for a team to be making changes to such a major and expensive component as the front wing, but that is simply a function of this relatively small team’s production capacity. The changes, which the team hope will allow them to compete towards the head of the midfield as they were doing earlier in the season, have been in the design and planning for a long time.

    The aim of the wing, as head of track engineering Xevi Pujolar explained in Suzuka, “is to help us create more total downforce, focusing more on the high-speed and helping us have a better balance between low and high speed. That’s the reason we pushed to have it ready for this track with a high content of high-speed corners.”

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    Visually, the wing is significantly different to the original. The two main flaps are considerably slimmer and at the inboard end the flap angle adjusters have been moved significantly further in, towards the side of the nose. Although there is considerably less depth to the adjustable flap area than before, the re-siting of the adjusters means the span of flap which is adjusted is greater.

    At the outboard end of the wing, there is a significant cut-out of the lower trailing edge of the endplate. Although this may reduce the pressure differential working on the part of the flap adjacent to the cut-out, it should also allow a more powerful outwash around the front tyre, to give better airflow down the car and towards the rear.

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    The old-spec endplate on the front wing of the C42 (L) and the new-spec endplate with a cut-out at the rear (R)

    The implication of these changes is a reduction in the amount of direct downforce generated by the wing itself, but a greater volume of airflow available for the underfloor (from the reduced flap area) and down the body sides (from the new endplate). The merging at the diffuser exit of the underfloor flow and that from the lower flanks of the body has a profound effect on the amount of downforce created by the underfloor.

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    These changes are therefore consistent with Alfa’s stated claim of wishing to increase total downforce.

    “We did quite a lot of work with the wing before we came to the track,” explained Pujolar. “The question is does the wing behave as we expected? It was pretty much there. We did a lot of driver-in-loop simulator for several sessions [before travelling to Suzuka]. Some more bits are coming in Austin which is part of this upgrade which we hope will give us another step.”