AlphaTauri’s 2021 Formula 1 car ran with a new nose configuration during its shakedown at Imola yesterday.
Both Pierre Gasly and new team-mate Yuki Tsunoda drove the AlphaTauri AT02, which featured a modified nose design with a shorter and more rounded end rather than protruding style that appeared in the launch-specification car. This change requires the design of a new nose crash structure.
The car also ran with a new front wing, which has been reshaped to work with the new nose specification, and modified front suspension that’s based on the 2020 Red Bull version.
The team had already confirmed it spent its two development tokens on the nose at the launch, although the changes were not clear on the images it issued then. The changes are obvious on the car being used at the shakedown.
The narrow nose design has become near standard in F1 in recent years, having been pioneered by Mercedes. It allows a cleaner airflow under the nose and through to the bargeboards. Alfa Romeo has also spent its development tokens on a new nose for 2021.
“The use of Red Bull Technologies supplied gearbox, rear suspension and some front suspension components is now in its third year for us but for 2021 we have elected to continue with the same rear suspension and gearbox design as we used in 2020,” said AlphaTauri technical director Jody Egginton at the launch of the car.
“We’ve elected to use our two tokens for a new nose and also redesigned the outboard front suspension. As a result of this we have elected to update some Red Bull Technologies supplied steering components to 2020 specification, as permitted by the technical regulations.”
GARY ANDERSON ON THE NEW NOSE
As the new cars for 2021 actually start running, inevitably there are new parts emerging that didn’t appear on the launch car. Some of the shots aren’t the most detailed given the media is not welcome at these tests but we can see a clear difference in the AlphaTauri nose.
We already knew it had spent its tokens on a modified nose, although the launch specification didn’t look particularly different to 2020. But we can clearly see now that it has joined the narrow nose brigade.
Comparing the launch spec to the new nose, we can see that the front wing pillars are also narrower. This allows AlphaTauri to have a more pronounced cape under the nose.
I’m pretty sure it will be mounted to the nose with a central keel, ending up with a horizontal trailing edge with some vortex generating detail on the outboard trailing corners.
At one point the narrower nose blends, or not, to the minimum width of the chassis’ front bulkhead. If you could, you would run this narrow section to at least behind the trailing edge of the front tyre.
This is the area where you want high levels of mass flow still retaining as much energy as possible, so anything you can do to reduce blockage will be beneficial for that.
All this is intended to take as much mass airflow around the narrower nose as possible and condition it to allow the leading edge of the underfloor a more uniform flow regime.
Also, the trailing corner vortices will be focused on some of the parts of the bargeboards to allow them to pull more mass flow from under the central section of the chassis.
It’s no surprise to see AlphaTauri following Red Bull’s front suspension given it has a close relationship. Last year Racing Point set the standard for following technical partners’ designs by wholeheartedly emulating the previous Mercedes.