Tech insight: How Alfa Romeo experimented in testing

The Sauber-run Alfa Romeo team is entering its second season under the identity of the famous Italian car manufacturer with high ambitions to make progress up the Formula 1 grid. Here Giorgio Piola and Matt Somerfield look at the steps the team took with its 2020 design during pre-season testing.

Alfa Romeo C39 front wing

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The team tested a new variant of its front wing, which looks to build upon its ‘unloaded’ concept introduced in 2019.

The design of its mainplane has essentially been inverted, with a raised section used at the inboard end to encourage flow under the wing, while the outboard section now dips to discourage it (green highlight approximates the shape of the old design). The chord and geometry of the flaps thereafter have also been optimised to take advantage of this.

These changes are likely designed to reduce the wing’s pitch sensitivity, tune the Y250 vortex that’s shed at the mainplane and neutral section’s juncture, plus improve flow out and across the front of the tyre.

Alfa Romeo Racing C39 detail

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

The team added its own version of the now widely adopted ‘bunny ears’ on top of its chassis for the second test. These L-shaped aero devices are to help tie-in the airflow over this section of the car.

Alfa’s interpretation of this design is a two-piece affair, which is then split into two in the horizontal section as well.

Alfa Romeo Racing C38 fins

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Alfa Romeo had these fins in a similar location last season. At the rear end of the cape, a new vane appeared too (red arrow), split into two in the upper section. This will help to pull airflow out towards the bargeboard region more effectively.

Alfa Romeo Racing C39 rear wing pillar detail comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The team briefly trialled a new rear wing pillar configuration at Barcelona too, which featured a much bolder swan-neck design (left) than the ones seen on the Alfa before (right).

Standing almost as tall as the central DRS actuator pod, it’s expected that the team is looking to impart an aerodynamic gain across the entire span of the wing and maybe even help improve the effect of DRS.

Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo Racing C39

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Not isolated to just its new design, but certainly noteworthy, is how the team has also reduced the height of the flaps at the outer edges, in order to soften the tip vortex and reduce drag.

Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo Racing C39, spins

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

The team also introduced a new engine cover during the second test. It’s a similar design to one used at points last season and doesn’t feature a full-length shark fin,but  rather a mini one at the back of the engine cover.

As a comparison, below is the taller engine cover fin seen on the C39 during the rest of the test.

Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo Racing C39

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

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