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Sunday, May 9, 2021

Revealed: Alpine’s aggressive F1 aero updates for Imola

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This comes off the back of an intensive test program that the former Renault F1 team undertook a few weeks ago in Bahrain as it endeavors to return to the sharp end of the grid.

The updated parts that will be tested by Alpine in Imola focus on the front end of the car this time, rather than the floor as they did a few weeks ago. Although, that’s not to say that those parts won’t once again be drawn into their test program, as the team looks for ways to improve the global performance of the car.

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The team have two options when it comes to the design of their front wing endplate, with a notch taken out of the upper rear corner on one design and not the other (red arrow). This is a design feature we’ve seen deployed by various teams since the regulations changed in 2019 and has an impact on the ‘outwash effect’ that teams are continuously tweaking in order to improve flow past the front tyre and refine the flow received by the floor downstream.

Alpine A521 front wing comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The team has also made changes to the shape of the front wing flaps at the inboard end (highlighted in green), with a new more curled-over design available for the team to trial at Imola. Changes made here are usually made in order to alter the shape and direction of the Y250 vortex, which is shed from the juncture of the front wing’s neutral section and mainplane section below.

Correlating with the front wing flap shape changes are alterations to the design of the cape too, with a revised inlet found in the central section (blue arrow), whilst a spear-like slat has also been added to the side of the cape (red arrow, inset).

Tech flashback to Bahrain trials

Alpine has already made significant changes to the A521 since it was first unveiled, with a slew of new parts tested during the first race weekend of the season. This resulted in it joining the growing ranks of teams using the Z-shaped floor cutout, with the team then pairing it with various other test items as it looked for the optimum level of performance from that area of the car.

Alpine A521 Floor comparison

Alpine A521 Floor comparison

Photo by: Uncredited

The floor tested during pre-season didn’t have the Z-shaped cutout or fins (V1 and blue circle respectively). But, having installed a floor with the cutout, the team tested two other solutions.

V2 not only had the two silver-coloured fins mounted side-by-side and offset from one another, it also had two shorter triangular shaped fins mounted further downstream (red arrows). It decided to race a slightly less aggressive solution though, with just a single fin mounted on the edge of the floor cutout (V3).

A batch of solutions were also tested just ahead of the rear tyre too, with the single element strake used during the preseason test cast aside (V1), firstly in favour of the trio of strakes used during the back end of the preseason test (V2) and then in a combination test with two other solutions (V3 & V4).

V3 and V4 both have four sections to them, albeit in a slightly different way, with V3 only having slots a portion of the way down the surface, whilst V4 is made of four individual strakes.

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