The first race of the 2nd half of the season saw several cars with new upgrades.
Ferrari with Massa have had new barge boards for a few races now, with extra little fins on the leading edge of the floor, which Alonso has never raced. This changed at Spa, with Alonso running them for the first time this weekend. Also at the start of the weekend, Alonso was running a higher downforce package than Massa, but on Saturday switched to a lower downforce package.
Both Ferrari’s used lower downforce front wings to match the lower downforce rear wings, which involved all cascade elements from the front wing and a smaller upper flap. It looks more like a conventional front wing.
McLaren had a very visible update on the leading edge of the sidepod. The vortex generators that sit on the leading edge of the top of the sidepod were removed, and instead replaced with a large aerofoil element, similar to that of Sauber‘s. This adjusted the angle of the airflow to make the coanda effect stronger, making the exhaust flow more stable over a broader range of vehicle speeds, and also making the effect a little stronger. This gives a little more rear downforce with not much more drag. In addition to that, they also had new winglets on the side of the cockpit underneath the mirrors, like Ferrari do, which are vortex generators. These send 2, smaller vortices over the top of the sidepod and engine cover.
Also on Friday, the drivers were using a new, lower downforce front wing, the upper flap inner section was made smaller to reduce downforce in accordance with the lower downforce rear wing that only Button ran for qualifying and the race.
For Quali and the race, McLaren went two different ways with the car setup, which went wrong for Hamilton. The car was lacking in straight line speed, which is a crucial element to lap times at Spa.
Torro Rosso were trying out their 2013 suspension at Spa, which involved a new wheel upright, and brake setup. They decided not to race the setup as they couldn’t evaluate it properly on Friday. To me this means that next years car (along with Caterham) is likely to be a development of this years car, rather than a whole new car.
Sauber have started to run a new box shaped element behind the upper flap of the front wing, that also is used as a flow conditioning strake. The top joins to the curved section of the endplate which ajoins the main flap, and is angled to produce downforce. The inner side turns into the strake, which rather than being attached to the 2nd flap of the front wing, hangs loose.
Marussia were running with minor revisions to the new package they introduced at Silverstone. This includes new rear wing endplates, and a small revision to the exhast exits on the sidepods to make both areas of the car slightly more efficient.
HRT were once again running with their extreme low downforce wings that we saw in Canada, and once again the cars were excellent in a straight line, battling with the Caterhams during the race.