Free practice for the Singapore GP showed a Red Bull in more trouble than usual after new directive: is the revised floor behind the difficulties?
It is only Friday but, during free practice, we witnessed a different script than usual. If in fact we were used to see a Red Bull domination right from the start, today the Milton Keynes team seemed to be in a bit of a pickle.
The RB19 did not quite settle in and both drivers complained of a lack of stability at the rear, especially under braking. Red Bull’s difficulties in Singapore coincide with the entry into force of the new TD018 technical directive, which impacts the flexibility of the aerodynamic components.
Is there a correlation between the two facts or is it just a question of wrong set-up on the RB19?
Red Bull have brought updates for the Singapore GP. In particular a new rear wing and, above all, a new floor. This component could be the cause of the difficulties encountered by Verstappen and Perez. Indeed, the feeling when watching the two RB19s on track is that they were running with a higher ground clearance than usual.
This is, of course, not a good sign as it decreases the airspeed underneath the car and therefore reduces downforce. We don’t know whether this choice is due to set-up specifications or whether they don’t want to risk damaging the new floor because both drivers only have one.
How is the TD018 slowing Red Bull down?
The floor is a crucial part of a Formula 1 car and even small changes can have a big impact on performance. Red Bull is said to have had the skid split into 3 parts to make it flex at precise points and avoid FIA sensor measurements.
Let’s be clear, until before Singapore this solution was ‘legal’ as it was in a somewhat grey area of the regulations. Instead, the new technical directive expressly forbids relative movement between adjacent aerodynamic components. So now the floor must behave like a rigid body.
It is no longer possible to make any divisions and have parts that deform in different ways. The doubt that may now arise is that Red Bull does not want to damage the new floor specification as it would be the only ‘legal’ one that complies with the new technical directive. Furthermore, losing a ‘flexible’ platform means losing both downforce and adjustability.
Of course, this is just a hypothesis, Perez and Verstappen’s difficulties could only be related to poor set-up choices. However, there were rumours that the new directive that came into force in Singapore would have an impact on some teams, including Red Bull.
Surely it cannot just be a regulation that makes a car go from being dominant to being seven tenths off the top. However, the certainty is that in the whole year we have never seen an RB19 so struggling and so difficult to drive.
We’ll see if they can analyse the data overnight, work out what the problem was and turn things around ahead of tomorrow’s qualifying.