But, in the context of cost caps, teams had to be particularly careful about development spending – and had to be convinced of the performance gains to justify the expense.
This raised the possibility that the teams were holding back too much for this weekend race in Belgium to try and get out of it as best they could.
And while there may not have been the scale of changes we’ve seen in the past, F1 teams have always focused on a series of new front and rear wing tweaks to better hunt the lap time.
Ferrari was looking to achieve its lower downforce and drag targets with a new rear wing and beam wing assembly.
But that only gave it one outing in FP2 before moving to a familiar low-downforce spec for the rest of the weekend.
Nonetheless, the new wing features a flattened mainplane and upper flap, which nearly eliminates the spoon-shaped design typically favored by the Scuderia.
Meanwhile, its submission for the car’s presentation document suggested it also had a single-element beam wing solution, in order to distort the aerodynamic interaction between it, the diffuser and the rear wing above, but this has not yet been seen on the car. .
Also, unlike some of its rivals, Ferrari hadn’t listed a new front wing among its upgrades for Spa, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t cut the top flap to help balance downforce. before behind.
Mercedes have a number of new parts available for the W13 in Belgium as they hoped to be able to build on the momentum they had gained from recent races.
The front wing features revisions to the wingtip elements where they meet the endplate, as the team looks to improve airflow behavior as it migrates around the outside of the front tire .
The rear wing features a revised flap layout, in line with circuit requirements, while Mercedes designers have clearly kept a close eye on a design first introduced by Alpine in Saudi Arabia, in which the conventional cutout of the end plate is set aside and a full height section is used instead.
McLaren has also opted for a lower downforce setup for Spa, with a new rear wing and beam wing setup added to its pool of available parts.
One of the lower downforce rear fenders the team had available was a more traditional design, while a design featuring a trimmed upper flap is also present.
In this case, the central part of the wing has its usual chord length to facilitate the DRS mechanism, but it is cut considerably on each side.
The new rear wing options are just the center point of an extensive effort by the team to improve the efficiency of the MCL36.
Other changes include a cache of different cooling options around the sidepods and engine cover as he hopes to select a combination that matches the ever-changing weather conditions at the circuit, a revised diffuser layout, brake duct fins additional rear and a new front track rod fairing.
AlphaTauri AT03 rear detail
Photo by: Giorgio Piola
AlphaTauri’s new rear wing assembly follows in the footsteps of its predecessors conceptually, with the overall spoon-shaped design retained while element sizes have been reduced.
In keeping with this change, the team also opted for a single beam wing element this weekend, which is complemented by a Gurney flap on its trailing edge to help with balance. This can be adjusted according to driver preference.
The team also changed the incidence of the lower wishbone fairing and added another larger fin to the waterfall already housed on the rear brake duct.
Aston Martin AMR22 rear wing detail
Photo by: Giorgio Piola
Aston Martin has also made changes to its front and rear wings, with a reduced chord top flap deployed on the front wing to help balance a similar change to the rear wing.
Sebastian Vettel also briefly tested an alternative rear wing solution during FP1 (above), as the team looked to get a head start on understanding their car for Monza, with the wing having a very small footprint compared to the wing used in Belgium.
Williams FW44 rear wing detail
Photo by: Giorgio Piola
Williams seemed to be on the fence about what will best suit their car in Belgium, with the team clarifying that their new parts are optional trim levels – so they’re actually just downscaled.
This includes front, rear and beam fender layouts, with the latter also including a single element layout made available to it.
Alfa Romeo and Haas chose to cut their rear fenders in an effort to reduce drag without the costs associated with producing bespoke solutions.
In the case of Haas, it took a similar approach to that taken by Mercedes at the start of the season, with a large cutout made at the trailing edge of the top flap across its span.
During this time, Alfa Romeo also cut out a considerable part of the trailing edge of the upper flaps, but was forced to keep the central part in order to facilitate the DRS mechanism.
And, while Haas has taken the option of also trimming its wing to suit the new rear wing characteristics, Alfa Romeo has also made changes to its front wing design that are conducive to those made to the ‘back.