TECH TUESDAY: Why Leclerc’s cut rear wing in Montreal wasn’t just about helping him progress from behind


Although Charles Leclerc was using a new variant of the lower downforce Ferrari rear wing in Montreal than his teammate Carlos Sainz, it was more than just giving Leclerc something to help him overtake from his position at the back of the grid penalised. after taking a fourth unit of power. F1 tech expert Mark Hughes delves into Ferrari’s larger plan, aided by technical illustrations from Giorgio Piola.

The wing used on Leclerc’s car at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is set to become the standard component at most circuits once enough of them are made.


It is a completely different family of wings from the extreme low downforce wing raced in Baku. What Leclerc raced in Montreal is simply a low downforce/drag version of the standard wing, without the Baku wing’s straight-edge mainplane and very small bottom surface.

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In Montreal, there was only one example of the wing, with Leclerc chosen to lead it. If there had been enough for two cars with spares, it probably would have been on both cars. It’s Ferrari’s response to the pattern seen in early season races of their rivals Red Bull having greater late-stretch speed. With this new variant of the wing, Ferrari has prepared to make a small sacrifice in total downforce in exchange for a more than proportional reduction in drag. It is therefore a more aero-efficient wing.

The Leclerc wing flap was straight edged, without the standard wing upsweep used by Sainz. The main plane has retained a similar outer upward sweep but is less domed in the center, so with a smaller surface difference between its underside and upper surface. This will generate less drag and less downforce, but Ferrari reckons it gains more lap time from the drag reduction than it loses from the downforce reduction vs. standard wing.

Ferrari engineer Claudio Albertini explained the background to the wing choices in Montreal. “With just one example, we couldn’t take the risk on Carlos’ car, because if it had been damaged in qualifying and replaced with a different spec wing, he would have had to start in the pit lane. With Charles, because that he took the PU penalty and went to the back anyway, we were able to have a calmer and lower risk qualification.

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“It’s a medium level of downforce, similar to that used in Australia or Miami, but working on efficiency to have lower drag… It’s true that sometimes you realize when you see a rival where we can improve and we see that [with] top speed, there was room for improvement.

The new wing works in conjunction with a revised lower beam wing, with a narrower upper flap. The new wing has a straight-edge flap rather than the standard raised flap. The mainplane retains the standard fender outboard upsweep, but the center section does not lower as dramatically.

Ferrari beam wing.jpg

A new beam wing (top right, compared to Leclerc’s Baku beam wing, top left) to go with the Leclerc rear wing featured a narrower upper flap. With the reduced area of ​​the lower surface of the main plane, there is a corresponding lower requirement to supply it with airflow exiting the diffuser, which is the main job of the beam wing. This will contribute to drag reduction

This creates a smaller bottom surface area and therefore a smaller pressure difference between the top and bottom surfaces, because the airflow flowing over the bottom surface does not have to travel as much to meet the airflow flowing over the top surface and therefore isn’t bound to sink as fast. This reduces downforce (bad) and drag (good).

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The goal of improving efficiency is to gain more lap time through drag reduction than is lost through downforce reduction (although this will vary depending on the track layout). track) and Ferrari believe they have achieved that goal with this wing.


The extreme low downforce wing used by Ferrari in Baku (above) is of a different family to the wing used by Leclerc in Montreal, which retains the dipping mainplane center section of the standard wing rather than the straight-edged main plane of the super low downforce. Baku Wing