Three teams took the plunge in making modifications to their cars, with Alfa Romeo becoming the seventh F1 team to modify its rear wing endplate to feature an upwashing swage line on the external face.
It is a design that was first implemented simultaneously by Aston Martin and Alpine at the start of the season. Since then, Williams, McLaren, AlphaTauri and more recently Mercedes have all added their own spin on the feature – with Alfa Romeo the latest to join the camp.
Aston Martin may have been one of the first teams to appear with the solution, but its design was shorter than many of its competitors. The swage line terminated a considerable distance short of the endplate’s trailing edge.
Alpine, on the other hand, stretched its swage line across the entire span of the endplate.
Williams introduced its version in Melbourne. The team from Grove appropriated a similar design to the one seen on the A523, with the swage line extending further back towards the trailing edge of the endplate.
AlphaTauri updated its rear wing arrangement at the Monaco Grand Prix with an extensive overhaul of the entire assembly, but notably its version of the swage line also appeared, while McLaren also arrived at Monaco with a new rear wing endplate featuring contouring in the lower half to help promote upwash.
Mercedes made the necessary changes to its endplate at the Japanese Grand Prix, with the Silver Arrows opting for a variant that turned back down towards the trailing edge, rather than continuing to ascend.
These swage lines are not the only area of interest for the teams when it comes to their rear wing assemblies though, as all have started to look for ways to increase how much downforce can be generated while also being mindful of any additional drag that will be generated.
Having been at the head of the queue when it comes to adding the external endplate swage line, Aston Martin added to its arsenal with a similar feature on the internal face in Monaco.
Aston Martin AMR23 rear wing endplate inboard strake
Photo by: Uncredited
Much like the original solution, this surface contour likely adds some assistance to the likes of the beam wing, allowing the designers more freedom with the design of those elements in order to derive more aerodynamic efficiency.
Another solution that’s been widely adopted up and down the grid is how the designers are approaching the connection of the wing’s tip section and the mainplane. While these are being bundled into one category, there are two different branches on the design tree emerging.
Once again, their arrival was a simultaneous event too, with both Aston Martin and Alpine responsible for introducing solutions in Monaco. Aston Martin’s solution has since birthed similar variants from Mercedes and Ferrari, whilst Alpine’s arrangement has found a home on the AlphaTauri, McLaren and Red Bull.
Rather than create a continuous surface between the endplate and the tip section, Aston Martin’s designers offset the junction, skewing the interface to alter its relationship with the upper rear cutout and alter the behaviour of the colliding pressure gradients which form a vortex at the wing tip.
Mercedes introduced its own version of this design at the Hungaroring, with the Silver Arrows being more apparent in its usage of a metal fillet to help maintain the position of the tip section relative to the endplate.
Ferrari installed its version at Spa in a bid to increase the efficiency of its wing, whilst pairing it with a downforce level conducive to the circuit’s layout.
The design employed by Alpine is more of a semi-detached arrangement, as the tip section forms an independent flap where it would ordinarily meet with the endplate. This was achieved by locating a bracket on the top surface of the mainplane, rather than on the rolled mainplane and endplate junction.
This results in an additional tip to be created at the base of the surface, which in turn appears to allow the designers more latitude with the horizontal expansion of the trailing edge.
The additional shedding surface that’s created will also clearly have a direct influence on the vortex formed at the wing’s tip, whilst also allowing for it to be more creative with the upper rear endplate cutout.
Alpha Tauri AT04 rear wing comparison
Photo by: Uncredited
AlphaTauri was the first to introduce its own version of this solution and capitalise on the design alterations that can also be made to the other aspects of the wing, including the span of the tip section, upper flap and the endplate and mainplane junction.
McLaren has introduced two distinctly different tip sections in order to accommodate the prevailing downforce and drag levels that the team is looking for at a given circuit.
Red Bull introduced its version of this design solution in Singapore, albeit with a more curved tip section employed than Alpine and its sister team, AlphaTauri. It also took the opportunity to introduce the teardrop-shaped flap pivot, rather than the smaller barrel-style solution it had been using previously.
Comparing the two specifications, it’s clear how much of a difference this open-ended solution has on the upper rear endplate cutout and is something that the regulations never really intended.