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In several grand prixes, the two teams, and even the drivers that compose them, have chosen to go in different directions.

It has been a balancing act between opting for a higher downforce solution that is better in the corners but more expensive on the straights, or reducing downforce and hoping that the extra top speed will counteract the negative effects in the corners.

However, last weekend’s British Grand Prix was quite unique in that everyone’s approach was different, as the four Red Bull and Mercedes drivers did slightly different things.

Much of it comes down to how comfortable each rider is in reducing downforce levels, and that is usually something they decide throughout free practice.

Mercedes W12 rear wing comparison

Photo by: Uncredited

At Mercedes, the division started as early as FP1, when Lewis Hamilton chose a lower downforce rear wing combined with a T-wing, while Valtteri Bottas tested a higher downforce setup but without the T-wing.

Although both drivers ultimately opted for the lower-loaded rear wing setup, Bottas’s garage side opted for a Gurney on the trailing edge of the upper flap.

This will have helped in terms of balance, especially during changes of direction. However, it involves a small penalty in terms of aerodynamic resistance (drag), which is reflected in the figures for the top speeds when comparing both drivers.

Mercedes W12 rear wing comparison

Mercedes W12 rear wing comparison

Photo by: Uncredited

Red Bull also went for similar adjustments with Max Verstappen. Although the team eventually committed to a higher downforce solution that left him more exposed on the straights, the Dutchman tried to get a bit more top speed by sacrificing some balance.

Compared to the Hamilton wing, which had the entire Gurney flap removed, Red Bull found this to be too much as it only removed the outer portion of the Gurney from Verstappen’s rear wing.

Checo Pérez, for his part, kept the full Gurney as he continues to familiarize himself with the RB16B and technically had less overall downforce as a consequence of going behind on the upgrade package, as mentioned above (both drivers had wings without the endplate more complex).

Red Bull RB16B rear wing comparison

Red Bull RB16B rear wing comparison

Photo by: Uncredited

The abandonment of the Mexican in the sprint race opened the door for the team to make changes and start from the pitlane, as it was.

Pérez’s RB16B was fitted with a rear wing with even less downforce than Verstappen’s, with the trailing edge more clipped on the outer section, in an attempt to help it overtake other cars.

This is a design that has been in the air since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, and which the team briefly tested, but ultimately decided that it did not meet their requirements.

However, the difference between the wing used by Pérez and the one tested in Baku was, once again, a Gurney flap, with one added to increase balance in high-speed corners.

Also read:

Red Bull RB16B low downforce rear wing comparison

Red Bull RB16B low downforce rear wing comparison

Photo by: Uncredited

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