Aston Martin's podium in Bahrain turned heads, and comparisons began to be drawn between their AMR23 and the 2022 championship-winning Red Bull RB18. But in the detail, it looks like the team in green have forged their own path. Mark Hughes takes a closer look.

    Aston Martin have stood accused of simply copying last year’s Red Bull RB18 to create the AMR23 which caused such a sensation in Bahrain.

    However, although the sidepod looks similar in profile it’s very different on top. There has been plenty of original thought evident at this team in the past couple of seasons, and it can be seen in the detail of the AMR23, and last year in the clever new rear wing they introduced at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

    This was so ingenious that it was allowed only to run for the remainder of last season – as it was accepted it did not break any regulation – but caused the 2023 regulations to be rewritten so that it was outlawed.

    The rear wing subverted the regulations which sought to smooth-out the wake by prescribing curvatures of a maximum radius at the endplates. Having no defined corner for the endplates reduced the effectiveness of the wing, and Aston Martin countered that by incorporating a ‘rolled’ endplate which adhered to the radius curve regulations but had the same effect as a traditional squared-off endplate.

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    AMR23 sidepods
    The channel in the AMR23’s sidepod top is very different from that of the Red Bull

    In the AMR23, we see a very deep channel between the outer sidepods and the engine cover only visible from above. This will probably have the effect of accelerating the airflow towards the gap between the rear wheels and over the diffuser even harder, and increasing the underfloor flow as a result of how the upper flow interacts with the diffuser.

    Another little tweak Aston have employed to boost diffuser performance is a winglet low down on the outside of the endplate. Last week with Red Bull’s floor edge we looked at how mini-wings are used not just to add a small measure of downforce in themselves, but also – by their manipulation of air pressures – to energise other, more powerful downforce-creating parts of the car.

    We looked at how the floor edge winglet at the floor cut-out increased the power of the vortex which sped up the whole underfloor airflow. This time around we can look at how the winglet on the Aston Martin’s endplate plays a similar airflow-boosting role.

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    Giorgio Piola's illustration of the Aston Martin's rear wing.
    Giorgio Piola's illustration of the AMR23's rear wing: the endplate winglet (arrowed) will create downforce of its own, but more importantly, the low pressure created on its underside will expand the airflow from the adjacent diffuser outwards, increasing its expansion and lowering the pressure of the diffuser throat

    Of standard aerofoil shape, the lower pressure on the underside of the wing created by its shape will induce some downforce in its own right. But more importantly, that low pressure created by the wing underside will have the effect of pulling the airflow exiting the adjacent diffuser outwards.

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    The bigger the expansion area of the diffuser, the lower the air pressure will be at the throat of the diffuser (its lowest point, before it kicks upwards). The lower the pressure there, the faster the air is induced to move through the floor, and the greater the downforce.

    Aston are clearly on their own very productive path, regardless of where their inspiration has been taken from.

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