What F1’s 2020 wing designs tell us about each team – Part IV

Formula 1 really has been a three horse race for a number of years now, with Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull ruling the roost.

Today we turn our attention on how they have adapted to the new regulations imposed in 2019 and how they’ve met those challenges with their front wing and nose designs.


Ferrari began its 2019 campaign with an unloaded style front wing, with the flaps contoured from one end to the other, twisting in their outer section to meet with the endplate and was arguably one the most elegant of this style to appear. 

As the season progressed, it looked to make progress with the design and set about attenuating the vortices shed from the outboard end of the wing. This included making a cut out in the upper corner of the endplate and adding a triangular vane on top of the footplate to encourage the flow outward (right image).

Ferrari’s nose solution was probably one of the most simplistic on the grid during 2019, a wide body with a thumb-style tip and an elongated set of pillars complemented by a row of three increasingly larger slots (left image, inset).

However, in search of more front-end downforce and not willing to give up the perceived tyre wake conditioning benefits of it unloaded front wing, it set about installing a cape solution on the SF90. Ratherthan housing the cape behind the pillar line as others have, Ferrari opted to bring its forward and mount it between the wing pillars and nose tip.

Ferrari SF1000 front wing

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Ferrari has made some subtle changes to its front wing and nose assembly for the 2020 season, with the nose tip being narrowed to allow for more airflow to be captured by the cape which joins it and the wing pillars.

Red Bull

Red Bull Racing RB15 front wing comparison Brazilian GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Red Bull opted for a loaded front wing design in 2019, having full height flaps from where they extrude upward at their tip all the way to the endplate. Whereas other teams started to cut away large sections of their endplate’s rear corner or cut down the upper flap quite significantly, in order to soften the tip vortex formation, Red Bull was much more subtle.

In order to test its theories and get a head start on 2020, it did trial a new version of its wing at the Brazilian and Abu Dhabi GPs.

This new version featured a totally revised outboard treatment. Starting with the mainplane, all of the flaps exposed the underside of the wing and the guide strakes much more freely. The uppermost flap was also positioned much lower relative to the endplate, softening the tip vortex.

Red Bull has run a vented nose tip since 2018 (inset), the solution allowing airflow to exit straight out of the back of the nose tip and under the nose. However, at some races during 2019 it opted to run a closed version of the nose tip instead, with certain tracks or conditions not conducive to the air flowing through the bodywork.

Red Bull Racing RB 16 front wing comparsion

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

2020 has seen the team ramp up its efforts when it comes to its overall nose design, with the team following in the footsteps of others that have adopted narrower bodies and the cape solution. 

The complexity of the vented section of the nose has also been increased too, with the lower nozzle still allowing airflow to flow straight out under the nose but joined by four new channels – two on the ramped section of the nose tip and two either side of it which feed airflow to the cape.

The upper of the two images shows the guide vanes added on the rear-end of the cape during pre-season testing.


Mercedes drew interesting stares when it first launched the W10, as whilst it had decided to continue with the full height, loaded design route, its first design also featured an inwardly curved endplate design (left). 

At odds with everything else we’d see, it wasn’t long before the Silver Arrows unveiled a new design, featuring an outwardly curved endplate with a notched upper rear corner (right).

Mercedes W10 front wing endplate comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Development continued apace for Mercedes, with another new endplate design appearing at the Chinese GP. Remedial work had to be carried out on the wing though, as the FIA insisted its design was in breach of the regulations, stating that the flaps should not be seen in side view.

Mercedes duly rectified this, trimming the upper flap where it met with the endplate. Subsequent wings fielded by the silver arrows took this into account, with the necessary alterations made.

Mercedes AMG F1 W11 front wing

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Mercedes still appears to be the team to chase, with many aspects of its nose design now widely adopted by the other teams. Meanwhile, it has toned down its initial loaded wing preference, softening the shape of the flaps as they meet the endplate, as it looks to improve the shape of the wake shed by the tyre behind.

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