Mercedes has the longest car in Formula 1 2019, but Alfa Romeo and Toro Rosso have come close with their STR14 and C38 as they conceptually moved away from Ferrari and Red Bull that have significantly shorter wheelbases.
German Auto Motor und Sport and Michael Schmidt traditionally collected pre-season testing photos from Barcelona pitlane at the same place to minimize mistakes and they calculate dimensions comparing the wheelbase with well-known dimensions on F1 cars such as wheels, maximum height and overhangs and front and rear wings dimensions.
The wheelbase data is directly linked to the length of the car because the teams use maximum front (1225 mm) and rear (810 mm) overhangs (distance between the most foremost front / rear point of the car from the front / rear axle).
This means that the length of the car is the sum of the wheelbase and the front and rear overhangs which is shown in the table bellow.
The Mercedes F1 W10 car has the longest wheelbase (3698 mm), but Alfa Romeo and Toro Rosso are very close with just a few millimeters shorter wheelbases.
This is perhaps surprising given that Alfa Romeo and Toro Rosso use the complete rear end from Ferrari and Red Bull, but this is clearly doesn’t mean they need to have the similiar wheelbase.
The longer wheelbase provides more space for positioning the components between the axles, including the power unit integration, but also more space for various bargeboards, vanes and fins behind the front wheels.
In addition, longer-wheelbase cars are more stable at higher speeds and often have more downforce or lower air resistance depending on the downforce levels used, due to the more streamlined shape, offering more surface for downforce generation.
The narrow wheelbase brings better agility, which is especially evident in slow turns and quick direction changes on the tracks such as Monaco or Singapore.
While Alfa Romeo has second longest car, other Ferrari customer Haas is among the shortest with only 3621 mm wheelbase, two millimeters longer than shortest Red Bull.
Ferrari settled between Alfa Romeo and Haas with a 44 mm shorter wheelbase than Alfa and 31 mm longer than Haas.
Racing Point, which uses last year’s Mercedes carbon fiber gearbox case, is also shorter than its engine supplier with a 34 mm shorter wheelbase, and Williams, which uses its own aluminum gearbox case, has a 20mm shorter distance between the axles than Racing Point.
According to the photographs taken by AMuS in the first week of testing, Renault has the highest rake of 2.15 degrees, second is Racing Point with 2.04 degrees, Toro Rosso is third with 2.00 degrees and Red Bull is fourth with 1.93 despite starting high rake trend back in 2009.
Mercedes has a traditionally low rake that gives them a lower center of gravity at lower speeds (lower rear ride heigth), but also lower air resistance (and fuel consumption) while a higher rake provides greater downforce potential for from the floor and diffuser depending on how well the airflow is isolated from the external turbulence.
It’s worth mentioning that Mercedes had a higher rake in second week in Barcelona with around 20 mm higher rear ride height which would bring their rake near Alfa Romeo (around 1.5 degrees). Teams often experiment with different rear ride height so that these data should be taken with a pinch of salt as it will change during the season.
The wheelbase data is fairly accurate and will not change during the season.
2019 F1 CARS DIMENSIONS
|Car||Wheelbase [mm]||Length[mm]||Rake [°]|
|Red Bull RB15||3619||5654||1.93|
|Racing Point RP19||3664||5699||2.04|
|Toro Rosso STR15||3693||5728||2.00|
|Alfa Romeo C38||3697||5732||1.52|
|Mercedes F1 W10||3698||5733||1.16|