Although Charles Leclerc used a new, less downforce variant of the Ferrari rear wing than his team-mate Carlos Sainz in Montreal, this was about more than just giving Leclerc something to help him catch up from his penalized back-of-the-grid lock after taking a fourth power source. F1 tech expert Mark Hughes delves into Ferrari’s bigger plan, aided by Giorgio Piola’s technical illustrations.
The wing used on Leclerc’s car at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve will in fact become the standard part on most circuits once sufficient examples have been produced.
It is a completely different wing family than the extremely low downforce wing that was raced in Baku. What Leclerc was racing in Montreal is just a lower downforce/drag version of the stock wing, without the straight main plane of the Baku wing and a very small bottom surface.
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In Montreal, there was only one example of the wing, and Leclerc chose to run it. If there had been enough for two cars with spare parts, it probably would have been on both cars. It is Ferrari’s response to the pattern seen in their rivals Red Bull’s early season races with a higher speed at the end of the straight. With this new variant of the wing, Ferrari is willing to make a small sacrifice in total downforce in exchange for a more than proportional reduction in drag. So it’s a more aero-efficient wing.
Ferrari engineer Claudio Albertini explained the background to the wing choices in Montreal. “With only one example, we couldn’t take the risk on Carlos’s car, because if he had been damaged in qualifying and replaced with a wing with a different specification, he would have had to start in the pitlane. With Charles, because he took the PU penalty and still started at the back, we could have a calmer, low-risk qualifying.
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“It’s an average level of downforce, similar to that in Australia or Miami, but working on the efficiency to have lower drag … It’s true that sometimes you realize when you see a rival where you can improve and you can see that [with] top speed, there was room for improvement.”
The new wing works in tandem with a revised lower beam wing, with a narrower top cover. The new wing has a straight-edged flap instead of the upward standard. The main plane retains the lift of the outboard motor from the stock wing, but the center section doesn’t sag down as dramatically.
This creates a smaller area of the lower surface and thus a lower pressure difference between the upper and lower surfaces, as the airflow traveling over the lower surface does not have to go that far to meet the air traveling over the upper surface and neither does not forced to flow so fast. This reduces downforce (bad) and drag (good).
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The goal with improving efficiency is to get more lap time from the reduction in drag than is lost through the reduction in downforce (although this will vary depending on track layout) and Ferrari thinks they have that with this wing reaches.