Red Bull Racing, who enter their 2017 campaign in prime position to challenge Mercedes for the title, introduced a very simple platform during the Barcelona test, with many expecting radical aerodynamic devices introduced ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.
The first, and most notable, is the teams thumb tip nose, which includes a hole to aid air-flow; inside this hole, there are various vanes, and this innovation acts as a key loophole to FIA’s ruling in regard to the amount of complexity around the cross section of the nose.
S-Duct, which was run by Toro Rosso and Mercedes in 2016, is now being used widely across most front-running cars; Mercedes continue to run their S-Duct after successful implementation in 2016, meanwhile Ferrari, who ran the air-flow yielding device in 2008, have returned to it this year, and so has Red Bull.
Therefore, one of the main functions of the radical thumb tip nose run by Red Bull is to run the air through the cavity – from the beginning of the wing – and allow the air to flow inside the construction of the front-wing, and exit from the outlet of the S-Duct. This effect allows for a more smooth and simple and filtered air coming in from the front of the car.
In development since the 2009 regulations, Red Bull is one of the only teams putting considerable effort in their radical rake concept on the front-wing. The team have built their 2017-spec nose around the research and development of the rake, which sits much lower than nose designs from different F1 teams.
With changes made in terms of floor and under-tray regulations, the Adrian Newey-led technical team got the green light to take the rake concept – which has been run on the Red Bull since 2009 – to a new levels, with its scope to produce higher downforce, given its ability to control direction and vorticity.
However, a team must be fully committed to the concept in order to implement it, which means that it must modify and compromise several components of its package to allow for the requirements of high rake.
Main rival Mercedes has, however, gone for the opposite philosophy – the Silver Arrows team came to Barcelona with considerably low rake, and with its eminent complexity, it is an element that is near impossible to change drastically through the season, given the different development paths and packages.