Pictures that provide evidence of Red Bull’s rear wing problems

Red Bull’s problems began to reveal themselves at the US Grand Prix, where the team had to make repairs to the rear wing’s main jet during the final free practice.

The repairs are largely believed to be the result of a bumpy circuit at COTA, with hairline cracks emerging that the team felt they needed to fix before qualifying.

An interesting note is that the team chose the rear spoiler with medium downforce, while in 2019, the last time we raced in COTA, it was chosen for the higher downforce configuration.

Meanwhile, the rest of the network, including the nearest competitor mercedes Trending towards higher downforce packs.

downforce packages

Red Bull has experimented a lot with switching between downforce configurations and is clearly mindful of Mercedes’ straight-speed advantage.

Even in Mexico, Red Bull apparently went with question marks over which aerodynamic configuration would suit him best, experimenting with Perez’s medium downforce rear wing during first free practice.

Unfortunately, the Mexican lost control of his RB16B coming out of the last corner and hitting the barrier, destroying one of the wings in the team’s available pool.

It should be noted that the teams do not have an unlimited supply of parts on hand, although they do have spare parts to cover any damage that may occur.

However, with such a tight schedule, including triceps from Mexico, Brazil and Qatar, the team realized the parts would be at a premium.

The team completed the rest of the weekend in Mexico with their soaring rear wing, but that didn’t come without its own drama as well, as the team had to go through ongoing repairs before qualifying again.

This time around, the team was asked to repair the outside of the top cover and the etched section of the end plate, both of which showed signs of fatigue.

The problems persisted with Red Bull in Brazil, but the team appears to have taken note of the problems facing Mexico, where the drilled section of the wing appears to feature a similar hotfix and have been repainted black, rather than red like the rest. From the bottom of the final panel.

However, repairs to the main plane and final panels seemed to be starting to have an effect, as it was noted during qualifying that the rear wing flap on Verstappen’s car was swaying at the end of the pitstraight while the DRS was deployed.

As a result, the team replaced both the upper rear wing flap and the rubber cap for similar components in Park Firm conditions.

Red Bull Racing RB16B Rear Wing Detail

Red Bull Racing RB16B Rear Wing Detail

Image source: Uncredited

It wouldn’t be the last time we’d see them encounter this problem, as it resurfaced in Qatar, just a week later.

After testing the high and low power packs on Friday in Qatar, the team preferred the medium power pack for the race.

However, even after several attempts to repair the wing, DRS actuator, couplings and axles, the team was unable to find a way to prevent unwanted oscillations while the DRS was active.

It’s important to note that oscillations don’t provide a performance advantage, but given the controversies that have arisen regarding rear wing performance this season, it’s possible that if it does occur under racing conditions, protest could be in the cards because it’s a moving aerodynamic device.

Furthermore, risking DNF at this point in the season would be pivotal in the championship fight and should be avoided at all costs.

Red Bull Racing RB16B DRS actuator and coupler

Red Bull Racing RB16B DRS actuator and coupler

photo from photography: Giorgio Beola

High Speed ​​Challenges

The team has not commented extensively on the cause of the problems it is having, nor has it made clear whether it was an issue caused by the team having only two spec DRS operators and connections at its disposal this season, due to a homogenization system that includes – in turn creating problems with the safety of the flanks.

It could also be related to the number of hindwing groups available during this phase of the season that are not able to withstand the loads transferred on them.

Regarding the latter, it’s interesting, as the tracks visited at the end of the season have higher speed trap numbers across the board compared to the opening four races where Red Bull used their mid-low power rear wing.

For example, Verstappen’s eligible trap numbers in Bahrain, Imola, Portimao and Barcelona were 313.6, 291.8, 314.4 and 313 kph, respectively. While Istanbul Park, COTA and Interlagos were 322, 318.3 and 318.3 km/h respectively.

Trap numbers vary for the race but tend to go higher due to the ability to grab a combination of drag and DRS from a car being rolled.

Flexible Rear Wing for Red Bull Racing RB16B

Flexible Rear Wing for Red Bull Racing RB16B

photo from photography: Giorgio Beola

The intriguing question this raises is, what role, if any, did the tightening of load and skew tests play in the design flexibility of Red Bull’s wings for these high-speed tracks?

After all, a rear wing that is designed to flex backward at a certain speed will experience a greater load than was originally intended due to the angle of incidence.

The new testing went into effect for the French Grand Prix, but with a warning with a 20% margin of error for the first month it was introduced, which in real terms meant teams didn’t need to fully comply until the British Grand Prix. , with the medium downforce wing used in both events held at the Red Bull Arena.

In between the race at Silverstone and their troubles at COTA, Red Bull raced the medium downforce rear wing four times and the higher downforce package only appeared during the free practice sessions as the team evaluated its options.

Of these occasions, only one race really stood out in terms of representing the top speeds it would have faced in recent races – Turkey.

Others, including the Hungarian Grand Prix, which is usually considered a high-powered track and makes its selection seem strange, still see him behind Mercedes in the speed trap in qualifying.

Perez only ran the medium downforce package in Russia, where Verstappen was starting from the rear with a new power unit, so there was a feeling he would do better with the lower downforce package.

Meanwhile, the top speed was also lower for the Dutch Grand Prix, due to the circuit layout. But this did not prevent a harbinger of its issues, as, during Verstappen’s qualifiers, his DRS operator failed, resulting in him being unable to use the DRS from the last corner. However, his time was still enough for him to take first place.

Red Bull Racing RB16B Rear Wing Detail

Red Bull Racing RB16B Rear Wing Detail

Image source: Uncredited

end plate effect

Going back to the symptoms that were caused by the ongoing repairs and the swaying top cover, we can see in this photo that the Red Bull board is making a show of freedom regarding the position of the cover when it is loaded.

To better understand what’s at play here, we must realize that all teams approach the design of this area of ​​the end board differently.

Teams reduce the thickness of the final board in the area around the main plane and the upper flaps so that they can create a set of wing slat profiles that remain within the limits of the permitted final board thickness.

Stealing real estate from the end slab to create these additional profiles helps improve the efficiency of the wing and mitigates the pressure gradient that can arise between the two interacting surfaces.

As always, each team does this in its own unique way, with Red Bull choosing to simply take their profiles out of the end plate and leave a clearance gap for the slot gap spacer located at the end of the top plate.

Mercedes sacrifices a sliver of slide profiles to fit into a box with another end panel going into the slot gap spacer. while, Alps It has a solution somewhere in between the two, with a small joint connecting each profile to keep them close together (red arrow).

Red Bull Racing RB16B Rear Wing Detail

Red Bull Racing RB16B Rear Wing Detail

Image source: Uncredited

Coupling this lack of stiffness in the overall structure of the Red Bull wing with the high-speed nature of the places visited over the past few races could answer at least part of why he struggled with his wings as of late.

But, there is one last aspect of this design used by Red Bull that can cause some of its problems – buckling of the end plate when deploying the DRS.

As we’ve already seen in the image from Brazil, the end panel appears to flex, opening the gap between it and the top panel more than it is in the rest position, while the second profile appears to tilt away from the lid. resident.

If we use this knowledge and look at a photo from Hungary with the DRS open, we can see that the lower profile is crooked here as well, suggesting that when the DRS flap is closed, it may do so in a way that corrupts the profiles and leads to damaged flap, axles and the DRS mechanism.

Red Bull Racing RB16B Rear Wing Detail

Red Bull Racing RB16B Rear Wing Detail

Image source: Uncredited

The remaining two races are being held at venues that normally require teams to use middle bottom power packs, which puts Red Bull completely in a bind.

The question is, will it continue to use the parts it had during the last Grand Prix and fix it as it went, or will it arrive with new parts that are similar in design but more robust in order to stand up to the forces at hand? Could there be a completely new design?

Research, design and production of new parts at the end of this season may be more than it can handle, given the cost cap and resource share needed to develop its 2022 car.

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