So far, Red Bull Racing has favored a low-downforce setup at every track. The Austrian formation thus maximized top speed, but lost power in the corners. Ferrari went the other way, opting for a high-downforce configuration. As a result, top speed was lower, but it had better cornering performance. This also seemed like the right way to keep tire wear under control for longer. The battle for the F1 title between these two teams seems to be getting harder and harder. It is also increasingly likely that both formations will move closer together in their approach to prevent the other from outwitting them.
Red Bull Racing RB18 rear wing
Photo: Giorgio Piola
During Red Bull’s championship-winning years, and largely in the turbo-hybrid era, Red Bull favored a high-downforce and often relatively high-drag philosophy. As a result, the team often ended up at the bottom of the speed lists. This F1 season their approach is completely different. The RB18 is regularly the fastest car on the straights. This allows Red Bull to face Ferrari even if the Italian formation qualifies better.
Red Bull seems to get more power out of the ground and therefore uses a rear wing with less drag, which in turn results in a high top speed. Milton Keynes’ stable is in a comfortable position in terms of set-up, while Ferrari regularly adjusts the set-up of the wings. However, Ferrari came to Miami with a new rear wing with less downforce, suggesting the lineup was concerned about top speed. In the end they decided not to race it as the track lacked grip and prompted them to revert to the earlier downforce package.
Ferrari F1-75 rear wing comparison
Photo: Giorgio Piola
The new rear wing was the third new rear wing Ferrari has used this year so far, with Scuderia already trying out two slightly different variants. The difference between these two specifications revolved around the transition points (see arrows) where the middle part of the spoon-shaped wing created more downforce than the outer part of the wing allowed drag reduction.
Ferrari opted for the version with less downforce in Miami, where the Sluggish from the trailing edge of the top flap has been removed to reduce drag. Ferrari’s latest wing, used not in Miami but during a secret day of filming in Monza last week, is designed for minimal downforce and has less powerful wings.
The new design is perfect for Baku and can already be tested in Barcelona. It has a much flatter main plate. It’s likely to be similar to the new design introduced by Mercedes in Miami and seen earlier this season on the Alpine A522.
Detail of the front wing of the Ferrari F1-75
Photo: Jerry André / Motorsport images
Ferrari also changed part of the steering arm to make the whole thing more aerodynamic (see above). The version used in America is more in the shape of a cricket bat and offers a larger surface area that affects not only the local airflow but also the surrounding suspension elements.