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.
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.
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.