Analysis: How innovative is Mercedes' new Formula 1 nose?

After days of speculation over potential innovations, Mercedes' definitive 2016 Formula 1 nose finally made its debut at the Barcelona test on Thursday morning

Analysis: How innovative is Mercedes' new Formula 1 nose?

It follows the current trend of an S-duct fitted internally and also exhibits many unique features, but perhaps falls short of the radical expectations around its design.

Since the first changes to the nose regulations in 2011, teams have sought to clean up the airflow over and under increasingly complex and stepped nose shapes.

Following 2015's change to the nose tip, most teams have also chosen to run a short nose to improve airflow around the car. As a result, this year's cars are nearly all fitted with noses that are short and have an S-duct inside them.

This duct picks up airflow from under the nose and feeds it in a 'S'-shaped channel to exit back over the top of the car.

The process cleans up the airflow over the transition between the nose and chassis. It's not a huge aero gain, but was described as "well worth it" by one team's technical director.

In length the Mercedes nose is similar to the launch specification - as short as allowed by the regulations - but the shape is more rounded at the tip and straighter.

Also like last year's nose the actual structure is only the upper part of the shape, then the lower half is a bonded-on panel. This allows the shape to be both adaptable and hollow.

The lower panel forms the inlet and channel for the S-duct. The inlet is a 'U'-shape near the nose's tip, rather than further back as seen on rivals' ducts. From there the air flows back out over the top of the chassis from a slot formed in the nose cover panel.

Overall this makes the shape of the 'S' in side profile far longer than most teams' versions, which tend to contort the 'S'-shaped duct into just 10-20cm. So losses inside the duct should be less, resulting in a better blown effect over the top of the car.

As well as the new nose and the cover panel, Mercedes has bonded on small panels to the side of the S-duct outlet, making the height of the bodywork the maximum allowed.

Other aero differences around the front of the car include new front wing mounts, which are very narrowly spaced, with probably half the gap between them of the old nose.

Although narrower they are slightly more twisted, but it appears the aim is to move them out of the way of the side of nose, to allow uninhibited airflow to the new turning vanes under the nose.

These turning vanes follow a similar four-element shape to last year's design, but have received more of Mercedes' favoured slot treatment on the lower edges - which now feature six slots to further tune the airflow.

So while not as extreme as predicted, the new front end is still a deviation from the normal practice and exhibits Mercedes' increasingly complex aero detailing.

With the team eschewing runs on softer tyres for fast laps in favour on long runs on the medium tyre, it will be hard to assess the performance gain with the nose. But on paper the idea should offer a reasonable step over a standard design.

shares
comments
Pirelli set for breakthrough in battle over 2017 Formula 1 testing

Previous article

Pirelli set for breakthrough in battle over 2017 Formula 1 testing

Next article

Haas Formula 1 team yet to agree commercial terms with Ecclestone

Haas Formula 1 team yet to agree commercial terms with Ecclestone
Load comments
Why McLaren's expanding agenda will benefit its F1 resurgence Plus

Why McLaren's expanding agenda will benefit its F1 resurgence

In the 1960s and 1970s, McLaren juggled works entries in F1, sportscars and the Indy 500 while building cars for F3 and F2. Now it’s returning to its roots, expanding 
into IndyCars and Extreme E while continuing its F1 renaissance. There’s talk of Formula E and WEC entries too. But is this all too much, too soon? STUART CODLING talks to the man in charge

Formula 1
Oct 17, 2021
How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential Plus

How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential

Yuki Tsunoda arrived in grand prix racing amid a whirlwind of hype, which only increased after his first race impressed the biggest wigs in Formula 1. His road since has been rocky and crash-filled, and OLEG KARPOV asks why Red Bull maintains faith in a driver who admits he isn’t really that big a fan of F1?

Formula 1
Oct 15, 2021
The danger of reading too much into F1's clickbait radio messages Plus

The danger of reading too much into F1's clickbait radio messages

OPINION: After Lewis Hamilton responded to reports labelling him 'furious' with Mercedes following his heated exchanges over team radio during the Russian Grand Prix, it provided a snapshot on how Formula 1 broadcasting radio snippets can both illuminate and misrepresent the true situation

Formula 1
Oct 14, 2021
Why F1’s approach to pole winners with grid penalties undermines drivers Plus

Why F1’s approach to pole winners with grid penalties undermines drivers

OPINION: Valtteri Bottas is credited with pole position for the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix, despite being beaten in qualifying. This is another example of Formula 1 and the FIA scoring an own goal by forgetting what makes motorsport magic, with the Istanbul race winner also a victim of this in the championship’s recent history

Formula 1
Oct 13, 2021
Turkish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Turkish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

On a day that the number two Mercedes enjoyed a rare day in the sun, the Turkish Grand Prix produced several standout drives - not least from a driver who has hit a purple patch of late

Formula 1
Oct 11, 2021
The hidden factors that thwarted Hamilton's bid for shock Turkish GP glory Plus

The hidden factors that thwarted Hamilton's bid for shock Turkish GP glory

Starting 11th after his engine change grid penalty, Lewis Hamilton faced a tough task to repeat his Turkish Grand Prix heroics of 2020 - despite making strong early progress in the wet. Instead, his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas broke through for a first win of the year to mitigate Max Verstappen re-taking the points lead

Formula 1
Oct 11, 2021
How pitstops evolved into an F1 art form Plus

How pitstops evolved into an F1 art form

A Formula 1 pitstop is a rapid-fire blend of high technology and human performance. PAT SYMONDS describes how the science of margin gains makes stops so quick

Formula 1
Oct 10, 2021
Why Mercedes' Istanbul edge is both stronger and weaker than it seems Plus

Why Mercedes' Istanbul edge is both stronger and weaker than it seems

Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton dominated the opening day of action for the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix, on the Istanbul circuit’s much improved track surface. But the Black Arrows squad’s position isn’t quite what it seems. Here’s why

Formula 1
Oct 8, 2021