2013 Chinese GP Tech Highlights

So, a three week gap between rounds 2 and 3 has given plenty of opportunity for teams to bring updates to China, as the development race never ceases. Let’s take a look at what they all had to offer.

Red Bull

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Red Bull appeared to be slightly off of the pace in Shanghai, but generally this is a track that does not suit the characteristics of their car. Their lack of pace was evident due to the fact that they had to concede ultimate qualifying pace in a bid to salvage more points from the race, which they duly did. Mark Webber’s woes continued and were compounded when the right rear wheel of his car was incorrectly fitted during his first pitstop.

However the Milton Keynes outfit brought along a range of parts that they will take with them to Bahrain, which should prove more successful.

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The team trialled two rear wings in free practise. ‘RW 1’ is the wing they have been running since the start of the season, featuring a thicker cord at the centre of the wing and 5 slot gaps to prevent vortices being created at the wingtips (vortices increase drag).

‘RW 2’ shows the updated – almost Monza-spec – rear wing that they brought to test. It features a much thinner cord and a reduced angle of attack, decreasing downforce but, crucially, decreasing drag. Red Bull have been running increasingly thinner rear wings as they seek to address their lack of top speed relative to the other top competitors.

The RB9 produces enough rear downforce from the floor, diffuser and other devices that they can compensate on wing angle, which should help gain a few extra miles per hour.

Originally both cars ran with the older spec rear wing that produces a bit more downforce. However, Red Bull withdrew Webber’s car from parc ferme after the fuel infringement, therefore they could change pretty much anything on the car as long as they started from the pitlane. As Webber was starting from the back, the team opted to start him with the lower drag configuration wing to try to aid overtaking.

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Further modifications to the floor were evident as an additional strake has been added, coupled with a hole between the pair of them. This is also noticeable in the ‘RW 2’ image above.

The purpose of having a pair of strakes is to produce two vortices that interact with eachother to control tyre squirt and improve the channelling of the exhaust plume into the gap between the floor and the rear tyre. The vortices also help expand the airflow from beneath the floor, effectively creating a larger diffuser in the process and therefore producing more downforce.

Combined with the new low drag rear wing, the RB9 could have the same levels of downforce as before but with much less drag. I am looking forward to seeing their concept for Monza later this year.



The above drawing by Giorgio Piola shows the changes that Ferrari have made to the F138’s front wing. An extra slot in the footplate has been added to induce higher speed airflow beneath to further enhance turning flow around the tyre more effectively. The cascade also features a slight modification in that the small endplate fence has been modified slightly.

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This image shows the two slots from side-on. Note also how the opening in the endplate has been downsized with the introduction of the second slot.

On Friday both Massa and Alonso ran the new wing. It featured 6 elements along with the above details. However, a new 7 tier arrangement of the same wing arrived on Saturday morning that both drivers chose to run for the remainder of the weekend. The additional elements will aid flow consistency and the driver will often prefer consistency over pure downforce as it aspires more confidence when driving the car.


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Both of the Lotus cars were fitted with the upgraded exhaust package that only Kimi got to run during the Malaysia GP. The exhaust features an all alloy trough instead of a carbon composite like most teams have. The alloy is more heat resistive, so when it gets hot it can still channel the exhaust gases quickly and more efficiently than the previous carbon version.

The under-tunnel that guides flow from the outer sidepod region to the centre of the car has been shortened and therefore, in turn, so has the ramp that the exhaust plume attaches itself to (coanda) as it exits the pipe. Increasing the gap between the ramp edge and the tyre also opens up the under-tunnel and allows more consistent flow to reach the upper centre of the diffuser.

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The E21 also featured new vortex generators, mounted on the sidepod airflow conditions. They form a ‘U’ shape that follows the shape of the sidepod leading edge. These vortices then aid the downwash of the exhaust plume and work in conjunction with the horizontal airflow conditioners found just above the sidepod’s intake.

Further tweaks to the slotted bargeboards were also present (see my last post for more on these https://thewptformula.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/2013-malaysian-gp-tech-highlights/)



Following on from their improvised efforts in Malaysia, McLaren brought with them a polished version of a diffuser that aims to reduce the peaky performance of the MP4-28. The above image by Giorgio Piola shows how they have cut a section away from the diffuser footplate.

Although this decreases overall downforce levels (as the diffuser can no longer emit a larger volume of low pressure airflow) the cutaway intends to intervene with the exhaust plume that enters this region due to the coanda effect. This reduces the sensitivity of the car as it pitches (dives) and therefore brings more driveability for the drivers.

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This cutaway has been coupled with a much lower exhaust exit and sidepod package. The bulge that features inboard shows where the engine sits in the car, that’s how low the new layout is! However the bulge has an added bonus of helping the flow atop of the sidepod to wash over the exhaust plume and create the downwash effect.

Lowering the exhaust should direct the plume, without additional spillage, towards the gap between the tyre and edge of the floor, further reducing the pitch sensitivity. This is actually in contrast to what other teams like Sauber, Red Bull and Lotus are doing, as they are actually moving their exhaust layouts further away from this area to try to spread the hot exhaust gases.


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Mercedes introduced as slightly modified front wing. The smaller of the cascade winglets (single plane) has smoothed to form one single piece with the fence that used to separate the pair of winglets that mount to the endplate. It then has a sharp, curved fence at the very tip. This is to induce a vortex to control flow around the front tyre as well as increase the efficiency of the wing itself.

Thankyou very much for reading. A lack of images has meant that I cannot go into further detail but I am still trying my best to sort something out to help explain these intricate updates more clearly. Please comment if you have any suggestions for improvements!

3 thoughts on “2013 Chinese GP Tech Highlights

  1. Morris Dancer

    Always interesting to read your thoughts on the technical aspect of F1. Do you attribute Red Bull’s (very relative) lack of pace compared to its rivals in Shanghai to the fact the circuit, unusually, wears the front tyres out more rapidly than the rears? And, if this is the case, do you think (assuming relative pace remains the same) they’ll also find Hungary a bit tricky?

    1. thewptformula Post author

      Hi Morris, thanks again for commenting.

      To be honest Shanghai has never been a great track for them. They won in 2009 but it was wet so that just goes to show you how this circuit in particular is the only track where they seem to be a bit slower.

      This is mostly down to the weaker Renault engine and lower top speed than the other teams. The engine gets a complete workout in China as it has to work hard down the straight but also provide ample torque in the mid-speed corners where the blown diffusers takes full effect.

      Their tyre degredation was fine although the soft tyre was weak for everyone (Ferrari got the most out of it), it is merely the characteristics of the circuit that don’t exploit the full potential of the Red Bull.

      They will not struggle in Hungary and will certainly be one of the quickest. The RB9 probably has superior downforce over the rest of the field. As soon as they sort out some of the tyre issues then they will be rapid for the rest of the season.

      Hungary is front tyre limited, but their overall downforce should suit the track. It has a very short straight, too. However, only Mark Webber has won in a Red Bull (2010) so they are still vulnerable in terms of race pace.

      1. Morris Dancer

        Thanks for that very helpful answer/analysis 🙂

        Could be wrong, but I think Vettel lost an otherwise certain victory there in 2011 by leaving too large a gap to the safety car (ironically, he was trying to help Webber out).

        Not a fan of Hungary. Too hard to overtake and the run-off areas are too large.

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