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GP Week : Issue 176
35 GPWEEK.com // 35 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: A new track is a jump into the unknown, as there is no ‘live’ reference data, so everyone tries to simulate in the factory what could be the optimal set up, just relying on altimetry data and layout of the new track. Austin wasn’t different from any other new venue in this respect, but being at the very last stint of this season, with two title contenders still fighting it out, was a very hard hill to climb for the title-contending teams. This is because, development must go on, so even though you can’t rely on proper reference data of the track, you still have to develop your car, introducing new parts, taking some risk. This was exactly what happened, showing how hard the teams worked even though we have to underline that it was not Ferrari that impressed us most for the changes introduced at Austin; instead Red Bull and then McLaren were the development leaders in this race. Red Bull brought a deeply revised rear wing, to further optimize the rear end downforce level, particularly important on this track especially in the Snake section. It was interesting to note that the new wing was in reality a sort of copy and paste solution of some elements of the Ferrari rear wing. In particular, for the first time, the endplates sported in their lower section an array of vertical gills creating a straight diagonal staircase. On the top of the endplates instead, an array of curved rounded slits of increased section provided a rectified airflow to the main flap, functional also to a better performance of the DRS system. McLaren focused on the front wing, to improve the front end sharpness of the car. The new wing, tested in Abu Dhabi, last week, now features a single upper winglet instead of the double cascade elements of the previous version (see inset). The inner one, in fact is now substituted by a twisty vertical fin very similar to the one featured by Lotus. The main profile on the other hand features rounded ‘corners’ both in the middle of the profile and close to the endplate, compared to the sharp conjunctions of the previous version. This helps in terms of reducing the turbulence generated underneath the main profile, increasing downforce in a way that was functional to the elimination of the double cascade winglets. The new wing helped in terms of top speed on the long straights too. As the championship headed to its penultimate race, McLaren and Red Bull took the biggest steps, as Technical Editor Paolo Filisetti explains TECHNICAL Battle of the Titans III F1 >>> UNITED STATES