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Formula 1

Pre-Season Testing - 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 Pre-Season Testing including Mercedes 'controversial' new front wing, RB20 Cooling System, and much more... Find out what makes these upgrades important for the season.

It's lights out and away we go for 2024 as the cars head onto the track for the first time for pre season testing. As the covers come off of the new cars, let's take a look at the 5 top things that have caught my attention so far in testing and begin to understand the new innovations on the cars. There's one main goal in mind this season: Can any of these innovations close the gap to RedBull?


New Front wing

New Front Wing Mercedes
Photo Credit Scott Mitchell-Malm via X

Take a look at the top of the new Mercedes front wing... This is a controversial front wing upgrade on the new W15. It has been produced in conjunction with the FIA who have said that "it does comply with the technical regulations that state that the front wing has to be fixed to the inner part of the nose". To answer that regulation, Mercedes have designed a thin carbon connection.

The aim of this innovation is to attempt to recreate the Y250 vortex that was present before regulation changes. This vortex aims to control and influence airflow characteristics pushing air up and back down again towards the floor - improving the efficiency of the underbody and rear wing... therefore, increasing the aerodynamics of the car. 

Red Bull

RB20 Cooling System

RB20 Cooling System
Credit: Sky Sports

RedBull has surprised us with new revolutionary air intakes on the RB20.

This is a complete design change from the previously dominating RB19. It is able to be carried out by, what appears to be, slimmer radiator design intakes around the driver AND what looks to be a compact V shaped sidepod design (although unconfirmed). This is an extremely bold move and the first of its kind. While we don't know what it's impact will be - Adrian Newey has done it again!


Rear Suspension and Gear Box

Williams Rear Suspension and Gear Box
Credit: Williams

Early speculation was that Williams had taken the new Mercedes push rod rear suspension and gear box...

However, during shakedown, it was revealed that they have in fact retained last years pull rod suspension. This means that Williams will have to use last year's gearbox as well. This is a cost saving measure by the team... but it does mean that they may not have the ability to access the new and improved top speed on their Mercedes engine due to older gear box configuration. 

Multiple Teams

Driver Cooling Ducts

Driver Cooling Ducts
Credit: crash.net

We all remember the extreme heat in Qatar last year...

New to 2024 regulations - due to the issues experienced in Qatar - the teams have been allowed to add driver cooling vents to the car. It's unsure, as of now, how these vents will affect performance or help the driver. It's important to note that teams are using a variety of different designs and locations during testing.

All Teams

Day 1: Top speeds and Sector times

It's our favorite part of testing... the DATA!

While we cant read too much into the times and the data - due to various unknowns including fuel loads, engine settings and tyre usage - this data gives us a starting point to looking at performance of the cars especially cars running same engines.

As a shock to none, Verstappen in the RB20 appears to be the fastest as of now.

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