Seven out of the 10 grand prix teams made steps forward in pace during 2020. Here, using data recorded from the seven circuits that offered direct comparisons between 2019 and 2020, we reveal exactly how much change each team experienced. While Mercedes was well clear in the pecking order, its rate of advancement was comparatively small up against some of the midfield teams, which found big strides.
The implication is that the nose was so narrow that there was difficulty in keeping the vortices of each side from interfering with one another, thereby reducing the effectiveness and consistency of the barge boards’ contribution to the underfloor performance. This was particularly the case at low speeds – and frequently the car would spin in such corners, even when the setup gave an understeering trait in fast corners. The car was developed more than any other through the season and by the last two races was extremely competitive. But it had taken all season to get it there and Mercedes had switched off its development in September.
By contrast, the Red Bull junior team AlphaTauri stuck with the old wide-nose concept – together with a more inboard-loaded front wing – and reaped the benefits. The car showed great improvement over its quite similar predecessor and the gap between Red Bull and the junior team was halved. Technical director Jody Eggington explains: “The front wing just kept delivering development gains for us all down the car. We just kept taking the gains and re-optimising. So we’d do a new endplate, a new flap, new mainplane etc, just kept chipping away at it. The gradients in the tunnel were nice but nothing that got us fantastically excited, just little and often. That seems to work quite well for us.”