The effectiveness of Red Bull's RB19 DRS has become the most coveted secret among rival F1 teams. Opposing technicians, including those from Ferrari, have been gradually deciphering its precise functions in an effort to replicate its performance.
Understanding the modus operandi of this element is no easy task, as its effectiveness appears to depend on several interconnected factors. These factors go beyond mere aerodynamics and encompass the dynamics of the car, particularly the behaviour of the rear suspension when the DRS is activated.
At an aerodynamic level, it has become evident that the interaction between DRS activation and the car's diffuser is crucial. Other teams now understand that the diffuser stalls at maximum speed in a straight line, with the activation threshold varying based on the aerodynamic configuration of the car – high, medium, or low downforce.
The threshold is inversely proportional to the downforce generated by the adopted configuration. Essentially, the threshold ranges from approximately 230 km/h with the maximum load configuration to around 260 km/h with the low load configuration. However, another significant factor seems to be the profile of the diffuser channels, particularly their section.
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According to rumours heard during recent Grands Prix, the bulbous shape of the central section of the diffuser has proven particularly effective. It comes as no surprise that Ferrari introduced a bulbous central section diffuser in Miami.
This layout increases the inclination of the central section, which, in turn, enlarges the expansion section of the diffuser. Consequently, it effectively reduces the pressure of the downstream airflow.
When the DRS is activated, the resulting increase in speed applies a vector force perpendicular to the elastic elements of the rear suspension. This compression brings the rear section of the car's floor closer to the ground.
By reducing the distance between the floor and the ground beyond a minimum threshold, the diffuser's shape significantly decreases the pressure of the accelerated airflow. Consequently, this results in a drastic reduction in the generated load and the accompanying drag.
Ultimately, we can summarise that this leads to a combined effect of reduced resistance to forward movement in both the upper and lower sections of the car – a feat not previously achieved in other single-seaters.
Balve Bains is joined by RacingNews365.com Editorial Director Dieter Rencken and Asia Correspondent Michael Butterworth to dissect the key talking points from the Miami Grand Prix.