It’s been more than seven months since a Formula 1 driver turned a wheel in anger, but they can finally get familiar with the F1 machines ahead of the first race of the season at this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix.
So far in 2020, drivers have only been able to test this year’s cars during a few days of pre-season testing after the coronavirus outbreak caused the planned first nine races of the season to be postponed or canceled.
But how different do the cars look from the previous season? From the cosmetic color changes to the redesigns, we take a look at each team’s 2020 car of pre-season tests and compare it to their 2019 challenger.
Mercedes have won the drivers ‘and manufacturers’ championships every year since 2014, so with such a record, you won’t be surprised that there aren’t any major differences with their car right now, at least by looking at the exterior.
The last march they stole from their rivals comes from their dual-axis steering, which could revolutionize the way drivers should drive a car during a race, but that’s all about the steering wheel and the unseen technology in the car.
Otherwise, the only noticeable difference on the car on their airbox comes above the driver’s head, which is now red due to sponsorship that makes the W11 car look like it has developed a seat – if we’re a little cruel. However, the team will adopt a black livery as part of an anti-racism campaign once the season kicks off in Austria.
Lewis Hamilton tests the new Mercedes W11 (left) in tests for the season compared to the 2019 car (right). There are few noticeable differences between the designs, only in aesthetics with the airbox over Hamilton’s head now a read color.
However, Mercedes opted for a color change for the first race and will now race in black during the Austrian Grand Prix
Ferrari was the subject of testing and for the wrong reasons. None of this pertains to the exterior of their 2020 challenger, the SF1000. It doesn’t even have much of an impact on the 2020 car, but a closed-door deal with the governing body, the FIA, regarding engines used in 2019 had enraged other teams.
But what about the car that’s on the grid for the first race of the season? Well, it is the only thing essential in the Ferrari box because it is red. It has only a few minor aerodynamic changes, including adjusting the shape of the wing under the rear wing, as well as the addition of ‘devil horns’ around the airbox above the driver’s head.
Cosmetically, the black trim shown on the front wing has received the Ferrari red treatment.
Ferrari has modified their 2020 car, the SF1000 (left), by placing a ‘devil horn’ aerodynamic device around the airbox. This can be seen above the driver’s head on either side of the triangular airbox. While this is to improve the car’s aerodynamics by controlling the airflow at the top of the car, the team struggled for speed during testing
Red Bull has long had one of the best chassis on the grid. It’s the engine power they lack when it comes to continuously challenging Mercedes to world championships.
The first race of the season will reveal more whether Honda has helped narrow that gap to the Silver Arrows. Despite recent strong car designs, however, there has been a noticeable change on the RB16 in recent years.
The car has a much narrower nose, at least compared to the 2019 RB15, but the devil is in the details and right at the tip, a ‘duck bill’ has been added as Red Bull looks at the front of the car directing air into it and around it.
Looking at the front of the car Red Bull’s new narrower nose (left) on the front of the RB16 has a black duckbill compared to the RB15 with a wider nose 2019. This controls the airflow going through the car. The narrower nose design has made the car a little more difficult, according to the drivers, but may be even faster
McLaren was the best of the rest outside of the dominant top three teams in 2019 as they aim to restore their former glory of World Championship challenge.
Step one means narrowing a big gap with that of Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari, but the winter test didn’t go as well as hoped, despite some noticeable profile changes on the car.
Notably, this includes the nose of the car, which is now concave around the driver’s number. At first glance, it also appears that the MCL35’s nose is much thinner than its predecessor, but due to careful application of black paint creating a slight optical illusion, the overall difference is much smaller. Speaking of paint, the 2020 car also weighs a little less after opting for a switch to matte paint because of the papaya color.
McLaren has changed their nose profiling for their 2020 car (left) and also switched to a matte livery. Notice how on the 2020 car, the slightly thinner nose becomes concave as it heads towards the wing and directs airflow centrally
The 2019 season was disappointing for Renault as they ended up far behind McLaren in the battle to become the best of the rest.
Like the Woking outfit, the French team also has a history of world championships and in an effort to return to form they have undergone a significant redesign of their front wing and nose for the 2020 season.
Also notable is the livery they tested, which was all black on the RS20 and was not particularly noticeable. However, fans of the more vibrant yellow schedule of 2019 can indulge, knowing that the familiar color design will return to the car as soon as the season begins.
Renault has redesigned the front part of the car on the RS20 (left), which you can see from the more rounded front nose, a departure from the wider, flatter style from 2019 (right). However, the team will retain the yellow livery from 2019
The main focus of Red Bull’s junior team this season has been their winter transformation, dropping the name Toro Rosso and the popular blue and red livery.
They are now called Alpha Tauri and their main hope for performance advantage concerns the Honda engine in the car which has shown a rapid improvement in recent times.
But there are noticeable changes to the AT01 of the STR14 car of 2019. The vane behind the engine and under the rear wing has been tweaked last season and has changed again. Unlike Red Bull, there is no switch to a narrower nose.
With a new team name in Alpha Tauri, the big change from 2019 has seen the exit of the Toro Rosso red and blue livery (right). Otherwise, there are few noticeable differences except for the thin vane that controls the airflow at the rear of the car. This can be seen under the rear wing
Until Ferrari’s engine failed, Racing Point was the most controversial team in the pre-season tests when the RP20 arrived in Barcelona and looked nothing like its predecessor.
It wasn’t long before the comparison was made regarding the 2019 Mercedes agreements, with the Silver Arrows powering the team as part of a longstanding deal. Dubbed the ‘pink Mercedes’ it will be interesting to see how fast the car comes during the season opener.
Still, they haven’t broken any rules, and while they could start the year as the best of the rest outside of the top three, it will be harder to overtake rivals in midfield if they develop the car during the campaign.
Racing Point has deviated dramatically from the 2019 car (right) with the RP20 (left) resembling the 2019 Mercedes. The most obvious way to spot this is to go to the front nose cone of the 2020 car compared to the Silver Arrows design. While this can be seen as a copy, the two teams have a close connection because of their Mercedes engines
Not too much excitement from Alfa Romeo during the preseason, which is also a fair way to describe their 2019, where small points were only occasionally picked up outside the chaotic Brazilian Grand Prix where they finished fourth and fifth.
However, changes have been made in the winter, noticeably on two parts of the C39 car they are likely to advance to the first race of the season.
A slight change is seen in the front wing that now protrudes at the base of the nose, while the second concerns the airbox on top of the car which, although still in two parts, now has a triangular opening.
Alfa Romeo’s new C39 car (left) has undergone changes to the front wing and airbox compared to its predecessor C38 (right). The new wing at the extreme point protrudes from the nose while the airbox above the driver’s head is adjusted to change the airflow feeding the engine, which is hidden behind the driver to the rear of the car
Haas has gone through a bad campaign to finish second among the last in the Constructors’ Championship in 2019 and it seems their response was to ditch the black and gold color scheme after just one season.
Red, black and white will now appear before 2020, but of course it’s more than just a simple change in the livery the American outfit has made in hopes of giving this term more of a midfield fight.
The most striking thing about the VF-20 is the redesign of the airbox with a triangular design more in line with Ferrari, from whom they get engines and other technical expertise to help them.
In addition to a new color design, for the VF-20 (left) for 2020, Haas has opted for a triangular airbox above the driver’s head to improve airflow to the engine. It is now a similar design to Ferrari with which they share a close relationship about the technical aspects of their cars
The 2019 season was a horror show for Williams from start to finish, taking just one point and ending a distant last in their worst campaign yet.
However, the team believed that the base of the 2019 FW42 was strong enough to redevelop to this season’s FW43 as they better understand the car.
Changes include front wing adjustments that look minimal, and are expected to still be at the back of the grid for the first race of the season. Yet they also seem to narrow the gap to midfield, so there is hope for a revival at Williams. However, the toothpaste-like color scheme will never see the track, with title sponsor Rokit breaking ties to the Grove outfit during the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the team opts for a cleaner white car with blue trim – the team’s traditional colors.
Williams suffered a terrible 2019 by finishing last, but the FW43 for 2020 (left) offers hope for improved fortunes. There are few noticeable changes to the car, which is an evolution of the 2019 design (right). However, with title sponsor Rokit heading out for the season, the car’s colors will not be red, but will retain the blue and white concept