The Red Bull clues thrown up from Andretti’s F1’s wind tunnel model

It makes little sense for the American outfit to abandon its project just in case it gets a reprieve ahead of 2028, and the scale of progress it has made so far on its F1 ambitions was made public recently.

This was after it revealed images of its wind tunnel model, and they offered up some fascinating clues about the squad’s overall approach.

Undoubtedly the first comparison that will be drawn is with Red Bull, owing to the design of the sidepods and some of the other more intricate aspects of the car’s design.

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However, you could argue that the same could be said for most of last year’s grid, as pretty much everyone has edged further towards that design variant due to the RB19’s success.

Some teams took the idea further, carving out a waterslide gulley in the upper surface, while McLaren also adopted an inlet design more akin to the RB19 with every iteration that arrived during 2023.

Red Bull Racing RB19 sidepods inlet comparison

Red Bull Racing RB19 sidepods inlet comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Meanwhile, Red Bull developed this area of the car extensively throughout the season, in order to shallow the inlet and expose more of the sidepod’s undercut to the oncoming airflow.

Given the changes Red Bull made in 2023, a better comparison is to look at the RB18, as the Andretti design more closely represents that design – not only in terms of the inlet but also the wing mirror design, which has a twin slat surround and double element mirror housing.

Interestingly, the swage line that was present midway along the flank of the RB18’s sidepod is also present.

Although that was still a feature that was present on the RB19, it was developed in conjunction with the other alterations over the course of the last two seasons.

Red Bull RB18 sidepod detail

Red Bull RB18 sidepod detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

There are also some similarities in terms of the floor edge detail, as no discernible edge wing is apparent.

Instead, the floor’s edge is segmented and rolled similarly to the RB18.

The angle in the image doesn’t provide us with a suitable view of the floor’s leading edge, or its floor fence arrangement and since this is part of the secret sauce when it comes to these new regulations, it’s unfortunate that we can’t compare the Andretti design with some of the 2023 solutions we have seen.

Nonetheless, we can see that a bib wing arrangement lies beneath the chassis and will help to power up that region, aerodynamically speaking.

Again, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before, though, with the Aston Martin AMR22 the first to break cover with a similar solution before it found its way onto many of its rivals’ machines.

Red Bull Racing RB19 technical detail
Red Bull Racing RB19 engine cover comparison

The engine cover design has obvious differences in terms of the roll hoop and airbox shape, with the wider spine section likely making the allowances required for what would have probably been a Renault customer power unit.

However, there is also the possibility that it just wanted to make more room above the engine for extra cooling, including an enlarged saddle-style cooler arrangement.

The shelf-like separation between the engine cover and sidepod bodywork seen on Andretti’s offering has also become a design feature synonymous with these regulations, as most teams carry a similar arrangement to help cool the internal components.

Meanwhile, the shorter shark fin and elongated spine outlet at the rear of the engine cover is something that we’ve seen from several teams under these regulations, as they try to get a handle on both cooling the car and the aerodynamic consequences that pose.

Red Bull Racing RB19 antidive

Red Bull Racing RB19 antidive

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Heading back to the front of the car and the Red Bull similarities continue, as the Andretti design also features pull rod front suspension, and moreover, it’s in a very similar configuration to the RB19.

There is a very high upper lead arm in the wishbone arrangement, whilst the entire assembly is tilted rearwards to both take advantage of the anti-dive characteristics this might create and the aerodynamic profile that would be offered up as a consequence.

It’s worth noting that Red Bull is not entirely an outlier here though, as McLaren has also utilised a pull rod suspension layout since the regulations changed in 2022.

Mercedes W13 front wing comparison
Ferrari SF-23 new front wing

The front wing and nose carry some DNA from several current teams, but perhaps the standout feature is the slot gap separator brackets which connect the upper two elements.

Unlike the conventional horseshoe-style brackets that can be seen between the elements on the rest of the wing, these have more of a role in creating outwash.

In the case of the Andretti model, there are just two of these brackets. When they first appeared on the Mercedes front wing at the United States Grand Prix in 2022 there were five.

In that instance, questions were asked in regards to legality and Mercedes chose to abandon the design going forward. However, Ferrari made use of this bracket-style at the start of its 2023 campaign, with Haas also in the market for a set later in the season.

Ferrari SF-23 rear wing Belgian GP
Mercedes F1 W14 rear wing Dutch GP

The Andretti rear wing has a feature we’ve seen before too, with Aston Martin presenting one of two open-end style wingtip variants at the Monaco Grand Prix, alongside Alpine.

Whilst most of the grid appears to have gravitated towards the Alpine solution, Ferrari and Mercedes introduced its own versions of the Aston Martin solution at the Belgian and Dutch Grand Prix respectively.

In both instances, be it the Alpine or Aston Martin route, the idea is to alter how the wingtip section behaves beyond the scope of what the regulations originally intended, resulting in a more efficient rear wing design overall.

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