Formula 1 Racing

The thinking behind Aston Martin’s unique F1 ‘slidepods’

Aston Martin AMR23 floor

Fernando Alonso’s shock podium finish in Bahrain, allied to incredible pace in pre-season testing, has left the team in the mix near the front of the field.

And while there has been a great deal of analysis about the factors that have helped the team shine, there is also a great deal of intrigue around interesting technical solutions on the AMR23.

None perhaps stands out as much as what has become known as its ‘slidepods’, the aggressive solution that takes the Red Bull downwash concept to another level.

Here we take a look at what Aston Martin has done, and how it has achieved it.

Over-egging what we see

Aston Martin AMR23 floor

First, a caveat. It is very easy in Formula 1 to attribute success to areas of cars that look different to rivals.

However, for the current generation of cars, the secret sauce from an aerodynamic perspective is hidden away out of sight, as it is the underfloor and diffuser that drive a lot of lap time.

But given the lack of imagery and intel on these closely guarded secret areas of the cars, it’s the sidepods that tend to garner the most attention, especially as there’s a distinct difference in design language amongst the leading teams here.

The obvious visual differences between these are often seen by many as a sign of why one car is quicker than another, even though that is not strictly true.

That said, it’s interesting that we now have three main branches in the development tree – the downwash ramp, the bathtub and the zeropod, with some designs straddling all three.

Aston Martin could easily put itself in that final category, as it has used the additional CFD and wind tunnel resources at its disposal to build on the downwash concept that it switched to during 2022.

And, while Aston Martin now has the most extreme example, it’s Alpine that we have to thank for this new branch of the downwash development tree.

Alpine’s A522 sidepod design had started out as a phase one downwash ramp, similar to Red Bull and AlphaTauri. However, it slowly morphed into a hybrid of it and the bathtub design, maximizing the central slope portion of the bodywork to create a slide within it.

In order to excavate its own, much deeper downwash ramp, Aston Martin needed to look no further than Mercedes for inspiration, as it shares the same power unit and rear-end architecture, which undoubtedly gave it food for thought in terms of how to deal with the packaging of internal components and how that impacts the shape of the…

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