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Japanese Grand Prix - Tech Corner

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Learn from F1 Coffee Corner - Terry Widdows - our technical correspondent about all things tech and car upgrades during each Formula 1 weekend!

F1 Coffee Corner's top 5 technical advancements we've seen during the Japanese GP including new Aston Martin sidepods, Red Bull inlets and much more... Find out what makes these upgrades important for the season.

Welcome to Round 4 and the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka! This is a track we normally visit towards the end of the F1 Calendar, but it finds itself in an unusual position - allowing teams to arrive with updates due to its early entry this year.

Teams are arriving with updates as they look to build on the data they have from the start of the season, and implement updates ahead of the 1st sprint races in China and Miami before we head to the 1st major upgrade period in Imola.

So here are my 5 updates for Japan that have really caught my attention!

Red Bull

New Inlets

Red Bull Japan New Inlets
Source: Albert Fabrega

While a lot of outlets speculated about the reduction of sidepods for Red Bull... They have actually arrived in Japan with 2 additional inlets at the front of the RB20! The introduction of these inlets has subsequently led to the removal of the engine cover inlets we are used to seeing on the car. As you can see, the duct extends along the engine cover - appearing to exit around the rear beam wing. This was designed to manage the flow to the rear.

According to the regulations a duct on the car is required to cool. However, it seems the RB20 is using this feature more for aerodynamic purposes whilst providing minimal cooling to comply with the regulations.

Red Bull Japan New Inlets
Source: Albert Fabrega

Here is another shot from the front. 

Aston Martin

Sidepod Changes

Aston Martin Japan Sidepod
Source: Albert Fabrega

Aston Martin are another team who have brought some updates with them this weekend: sidepod changes, alongside a new floor edge which we will cover next. The Silverstone based team brought a sidepod update to Japan. The update is one we have seen on the Red Bull RB18 and RB19 previously... although this looks more aggressive. There is a revised shoulder around where the Boss logo is which has been changed to suit the floor changes and provide cooling options.

The update has been described by Aston as working in conjunction with the floor development - distributing the load on the revised floor edge and improving the efficiency of the cooling in the AMR 24.

New Floor Edge

Aston Martin Japan Floor edge
Source: Albert Fabrega

The next update that has really caught my eye is the new floor that Aston Martin has introduced here in Japan. There seems to be a less aggressive approach to the floor edge, as you can see from the pictures, with what the team has described as "an evolution and revised shape". This is designed to work with the flow of air created by that new sidepod shape, which will be directing more air towards the floor. The new design is designed to increase the downforce (load) to the floor and channel the air to the rear better.

The update doesn't stop there, though, as at the rear a cutout has also been changed along with the beam wing and the diffuser area. This means that this is a substantial update for the team interlinked to improve the aero performance. We saw from the flow paint in testing that this was an area providing and issue for the team. Pictures showed that the area around the Boss logo was completely clear of paint- meaning that the air wasn't flowing efficiently around that area. This change and the bodywork design change have been brought in to hopefully correct that issue. 


New Floor Edge

Stake Japan Floor edge
Source: Albert Fabrega

Stake have brought with them a new floor update similar to the Aston Martin floor. You can see that it's a much less aggressive, more smooth design to the season launched spec. The floor has been redesigned at the front and middle section. This is to improve the airflow and aerodynamic efficiency, but is also designed to improve the stability and handling of the car.

There has been a lot of talk about Stake's pit stops and the issues related to their non- updated guns. This is an area that we don't receive information on as part of any updates, but we are being told it is actually a software issue within the guns that is in need of a fix rather than a physical change. This explains why the guns have not been swapped over as of yet.

Visa Cashapp RB

Floor Updates

VCARB Japan Floor updates

With the theme for Japan seemingly being floor updates... Visa Cashapp RB are no exception. They have introduced an update to the floor edge and floor body. The aim of this update is to improve the load, therefore, generating more downforce whilst improving the flow of air towards the diffuser and rear of the car. This is a design that works in conjunction with the new rear wing we saw introduced in Australia.

Whilst there is a lot of talk about the Visa Cashapp RB team being similar to Red Bull’s RB19 2023 challenger, the current VCARB 01, actually, is much like the AT04 Alpha Tauri that finished the season in Abu Dhabi last year. It was heavily updated towards the end of the 2023 season to take on the allotted parts from Red Bull as part of their technical partnership.

Other Upgrades of Note

Other updates that have arrived in Japan are:

  • New front and rear wing for Williams
  • Minor front and beam wing updates for Alpine
  • Circuit specific 2023 rear wing for Ferrari
    • For use if poor weather hits
  • Small rear suspension modification which has reprofiled the rear top wishbone rearward leg fairing for Ferrari

With China and the first if the sprint weekends up next, it's not expected that this will be a major update track for the teams with limited free practice running. We haven't been at the track for a number of years but I will of course bring you all the latest from the track in China next time!

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