21 Mar 2014
Red Bull Racing arrived at Melbourne on the back foot, problems during the pre-season tests curtailed the mileage covered by the team, scuppering their assessment of aerodynamic solutions.
Several elements stood out during the testing phase as being devoid of their usual refinement with the rear wings endplates being one such example. Usually you'll find a set of louvres placed in the upper front section of the endplate (see lower left inset). Their job is to allow pressure to move either side of the endplate which in turn maximizes the efficiency of the Wing (more downforce, less drag). Furthermore most of the teams on the grid, including Red Bull had converged on the idea of using a tyre wake slot on the lower leading edge of the endplate (lower left inset). It's job was to create aerodynamic stability and was also missing from the RB10 when the team tested pre-season.
With aerodynamic efficiency even more prominent this season it was surprising not to see these elements on the RB10 in testing but in Melbourne we get to see why. The team have added 3 gradient slots to the Endplates (bottom right inset) which follow the curvature of the rear wings mainplane and top flap, these slots combine the principles of the leading edge variants previously used (upper louvres and lower tyre wake slot) and likely lead to an overall more efficient solution. Pressure from outside the endplate migrates inside untwining with the tip vortex to reduce drag whilst yielding the same if not more downforce through virtue of the injection of airflow pulling the airflow around the wing planes (Coanda). As always Red Bull are playing a game where Peter robs Paul, in order to increase the aspect ratio of the wing under different conditions. I expect this to be an area of development as the season unfolds.