F1 development war: McLaren, Mercedes, Ferrari and Alpine’s Silverstone upgrades analysed

Uros Radovanovic
Alpine, Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes. F1 Silverstone July 2023.

Alpine, Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes. F1 Silverstone July 2023.

The British Grand Prix delivered a range of surprises, both positive and negative, and one intriguing aspect was that, out of the 10 teams, a remarkable nine made improvements in their quest to challenge Red Bull.

With that brought a new team that seemingly catapulted themselves to the front of the queue to be ‘best of the rest’ in the process, with the rest playing catch-up on a fantastic weekend at Silverstone.

Now, let’s delve into the notable team upgrades witnessed at the British GP, along with the technical intricacies that accompanied them.


Undoubtedly, the most astonishing revelation of the race weekend was the striking McLaren adorned in its fresh chrome livery.

Over a year since their last podium finish, McLaren, led by the impressive Lando Norris, clinched second place – a truly incredible outcome for a team that faced major setbacks at the beginning of the season.

The British team showcased their most significant change in Austria, which marked the first of three planned upgrades aimed at a complete overhaul of the car’s aerodynamics, as intended by their engineers.

Among the newly introduced components were revamped sidepods, a redesigned floor, an upgraded halo, and an engine cover.

During the Silverstone race, the chrome McLaren showcased a fresh front wing, which stands as one of the crucial aerodynamic components.

While the visual change may not appear significant at first glance, the new wing boasts substantial differences.

Its primary role, aside from generating downforce, is to effectively direct airflow to the areas where it is most needed.

As a result, this novel addition to their car must synergise with all the other enhancements to elevate the overall efficiency of the vehicle.

For McLaren, the Silverstone race marked the second phase of their three-part upgrade plan, aimed at a complete transformation of the car’s aerodynamics.

According to the team’s engineering department, the implemented modifications have been highly successful thus far, as evidenced by the results.

Furthermore, they remain optimistic that the forthcoming improvements will deliver even greater speed to their car.


When it comes to Mercedes, their most significant changes were implemented in Monaco this year, signifying a complete overhaul in the car’s philosophy.

Consequently, it was expected that they would introduce further new components in the upcoming races.

The primary reshaping witnessed at Silverstone revolved around the front wing, which boasts a noticeably distinct appearance.

The endplate line now exhibits a more rounded contour, lacking the sharp transition observed in the previous design. A similar modification was previously observed in the Ferrari team.

Additionally, the nose of the car has undergone a transformation, adopting a more pointed shape compared to its previous version.

The adjustments made to the front wing profile were aimed at optimising the airflow at the rear of the car, particularly beneficial on circuits with numerous high-speed corners like Silverstone. This alteration was intended to enhance the overall stability and sustainability of the airflow dynamics.

Despite securing respectable positions of P3 and P5, Mercedes still gives the impression that they haven’t completely resolved their issues and continue to lag behind Red Bull.


Ferrari introduced a new beam wing specifically for Silverstone, recognising its significance in ensuring rear stability, which holds great importance on the high-speed British track.

The new beam wing design now features a single element, differing from the previous configuration that had two wings. This particular design was initially pioneered by Red Bull.

The notable angle of the beam wing allows the airflow around it to influence with both the diffuser and the rear wing. Again, something that Red Bull did first, better known as their “triple DRS” system, giving them incredible speed on the straights.

Ferrari indeed appears to be aiming for a similar outcome, evident in their adoption of a high-angle beam wing.

This strategy can prove highly effective not only during high-speed corners but also in DRS zones, particularly when there is a noticeable airflow separation on that component in conjunction with an open rear wing.

Red Bull, as previously mentioned, was the pioneer in implementing such tactics, and other teams have yet to replicate their success in this area.

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Alpine started their 2023 season on a positive note, showcasing a car that outpaced most of the midfield teams.

Their first significant update was introduced at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, involving a complete redesign of the floor. However, the results did not yield a significant improvement.

With McLaren demonstrating their ability to contend with the top teams using their new car, Alpina finds themselves in a less favourable position.

Following a disastrous race at Silverstone, the French team now sits below their main rival, McLaren, in the Constructors’ standings.

Prior to the Silverstone weekend, Alpine announced yet another major change aimed at extracting more speed on the track.

During the initial practice sessions, observers could immediately spot a completely revamped design of the front wing.

The main plane now boasts a more pronounced shape, accompanied by flaps and an endplate that taper towards the wing’s edge.

While reminiscent of Mercedes’ design, Alpine’s endplate line remains distinctively different.

The newly designed front wing is expected to enhance Alpine’s stability and improve their speed through high-speed corners, a critical requirement at a circuit like Silverstone.

Unfortunately, due to a double DNF, both Alpine cars were unable to complete the race, hindering the opportunity to witness the team’s actual progress.

Additionally, Alpine has announced another significant upgrade scheduled for Belgian Grand Prix, where they will introduce a different floor design.

The team’s engineers are optimistic about the success of this design based on their computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations.

Read next: Alpine boss outlines upgrade plan as 2024 switchover looms