F1 2022 tech review: How Mercedes turned early-season pain into late victory joy

Mercedes knew that the shift to all-new regulations for the 2022 Formula 1 season would provide a golden opportunity for rivals to end its dominance of the sport.

F1 2022 tech review: How Mercedes turned early-season pain into late victory joy

But the German car manufacturer certainly would never have predicted the kind of difficulties it faced with its W13.

Having suffered the most extreme porpoising on the grid, Mercedes found itself enduring some pretty painful moments in trying to get to the bottom of what had gone wrong.

Despite a few false dawns along the way, Mercedes steadily got to grips with its concept, unleashed more performance and was able to pull off a surprise 1-2 in the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Here we take a look at all the work the Brackley-based squad put in and the changes it needed to make.

Mercedes W13 high cooling detail

Mercedes W13 high cooling detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The Mercedes W13 looked different at launch and during the pre-season shakedown than it would going forward.

Featuring a larger sidepod footprint and crinkled floor edge, the car was going to receive a significant makeover as the team moved on from this baseline test in Barcelona.

Mercedes W13 forward cooling louvre panel

Mercedes W13 forward cooling louvre panel

Photo by: Giacomo Rauli

A top-down overview of the original sidepod specification on the W13, complete with the interchangeable cooling panels beside the cockpit.

Mercedes W13 floor comparison

Mercedes W13 floor comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The W13 underwent significant surgery for the pre-season test in Bahrain, with the arrival of the 'zeropods' - the most visually disarming aspect of the update.

But it was not the only one, with changes to the engine cover, floor's edge and floor fences also clearly visible. Meanwhile, the FIA's allowance of an additional metal stay to help reduce porpoising also saw Mercedes take one onboard ahead of the rear wheel (blue arrow).

Mercedes W13 sidepod comparison

Mercedes W13 sidepod comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

One controversial aspect of the W13's zeropod layout was the SIS fairing and the mirror guide vanes (blue arrow).

The fairing around the SIS allowed the team to think of the sidepod's overall design independently of it, while it also acted as a flow conditioner in its own right.

Meanwhile, the mirror stalk guide vanes were an interpretation of the regulations that others had also followed and merely acted in a similar manner to the full-length variant seen on its original sidepod design

Mercedes W13 side view comparison

Mercedes W13 side view comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

An overview of the two bodywork packages shows how different the floor and sidepods are, while it's clear to see changes in the livery, even at this early stage, as the team looked to remove some of the unnecessary paint to help reduce weight.

Mercedes W13 rear wing detail

Mercedes W13 rear wing detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The original specification rear wing bucked the commonly held spoon-shaped mainplane trend, with Mercedes instead opting for an upturned lip in the central section. The top flap also had a lower trailing edge in the central portion.

Mercedes W13 front wing comparison

Mercedes W13 front wing comparison

Changes had also been made to the front wing between the two tests, with the upper flap's design altered quite significantly (dotted white line and red arrow), whilst the immovable inboard portion of the wing, closest to the nose, became more loaded (blue arrow). You'll also note that the black paint on the front wing was discarded to help reduce weight.

Mercedes W13 rear wing

Mercedes W13 rear wing

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

In order to reduce downforce and drag at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Mercedes took a large chunk out the trailing edge of the rear wing's upper flap, whilst also removing the Gurney flap.

Mercedes W13 sidepod canards and SIS comparison

Mercedes W13 sidepod canards and SIS comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

For Imola the team made some revisions to the arrangement of the chassis canards (red arrow), altered the SIS fairing's shape and modified the mirror housing and stalks.

Mercedes W13 wing flap

Mercedes W13 wing flap

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

To cater for the specific demands of the circuit at Imola, the team also modified the upper flap, cutting a section out of the trailing edge, albeit not as much as the specification used in Saudi Arabia.

Mercedes W13 Floor comparison

Mercedes W13 Floor comparison

Mercedes also made a change to the shape of the floor ahead of the rear tyre (dotted yellow line).
The curled edge concludes more abruptly on the new design, inciting a different flow pattern to emerge as a consequence, one that the team hoped would have the desired impact on the tyre squirt phenomenon created by the wake from the rear tyre.

Mercedes W13 rear wing

Mercedes W13 rear wing

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

A new rear wing was installed for the Miami Grand Prix, with more of an emphasis on reducing downforce and drag. The design featured a more conventional leading edge for the mainplane, whilst still rejecting the option of a spoon-shaped profile like many of its rivals had opted for.

Mercedes W13 endplate comparison

Mercedes W13 endplate comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The team also introduced a novel new front wing endplate solution, whereby the flaps connected to the forward portion of the endplate but left the rear lower edge exposed. The outwash ability of the wing is expected to have been improved by the changes, improving performance locally and downstream.

Mercedes W13 rear wing comparison Miami GP

Mercedes W13 rear wing comparison Miami GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

A comparison of the two lower downforce options at Mercedes' disposal at this point in the season, with the main plane leading edge and endplate radius very different between both specifications (blue arrow), whilst the beam wing (red arrow) also featured subtle differences in the outer section in order to reduce drag.

Mercedes W13 new floor comparison

Mercedes W13 new floor comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The first major change to the edge of the W13's floor was made at the Spanish Grand Prix, as the team not only added a scythe-shaped edge wing, but also modified the curled sections of floor fore and aft of it.

Mercedes W13 double splitter winglet detail

Mercedes W13 double splitter winglet detail

Photo by: Uncredited

The team also added a bib wing to its arsenal too, having seen many of its rivals appropriate one during the opening phase of the season.

Mercedes W13 detail

Mercedes W13 detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

A great overview of the W13 without the bodywork in place as it's prepared for action in Monaco. Note the radiators which are recessed in the chassis, whilst a new surface covering can be seen around the fuel tank section as the team looks to help control temperature exchange.

Mercedes W13 detail

Mercedes W13 detail

Photo by: Uncredited

To help with front brake temperatures, the W13 was fitted with a larger inlet for Monaco.

Mercedes W13 fin comparison

Mercedes W13 fin comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The team hung this tail fin from the W13's SIS fairing at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix as an extension of the wing mirror stalk arrangement above.

Mercedes W13 front wing detail

Mercedes W13 front wing detail

To help balance the car front-to-rear, given the return to a lower downforce setup for the Baku street circuit, Mercedes trimmed the trailing edge of the front wing's upper flap.

Mercedes W13 extra floor stay - Canada

Mercedes W13 extra floor stay - Canada

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Mercedes tested an additional floor stay, midway along the floor's length in Canada, with them set to be allowed by the FIA in the upcoming races. However, it was quickly removed and their introduction was shelved by the governing body.

Mercedes W13 detail

Mercedes W13 detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The team also experimented with a large cutout in the floor in place of the edge wing.

Mercedes W13 floor detail

Mercedes W13 floor detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

A look at the W13's floor, as mechanics carry it into the garage, shows the mounting points for stays hidden within the sidepod bodywork (circled).

Mercedes W13 front wing endplate comparison

Mercedes W13 front wing endplate comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

As part of its continued development of the front wing endplate, the team altered the position of the canard at Silverstone, lowering it towards the slotted section adjoined to the flaps.

Mercedes W13 suspension detail

Mercedes W13 suspension detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

As part of a significant development package unveiled at Silverstone, Mercedes added bulk to the chassis and suspension fairings in order to increase downwash towards the sidepods and floor

Mercedes W13 chassis fins

Mercedes W13 chassis fins

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

To maximise the new flow structures ahead of them and realign the flow they create, Mercedes also altered the canard arrangement on the side of the chassis.

Mercedes W13 floor comparison

Mercedes W13 floor comparison

Photo by: Uncredited

Changes were also made to the shape of the outer floor fence and the edge wing with the main element widened, shortened and flattened out as an upwardly scrolled section. Upwash strikes were added to the forward section of the assembly (old specification inset for comparison).

Mercedes W13 Rear Wing Comparison

Mercedes W13 Rear Wing Comparison

Photo by: Uncredited

Meanwhile, the upper tip section of the endplate and flap junction also underwent some changes, as the corner profile was widened (yellow line).

Mercedes W13 front brake duct exit scoop comparison

Mercedes W13 front brake duct exit scoop comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

To help improve flow through the front brake duct assembly, the team increased the size of its rear outlet and added some flow-defining baffles at the French Grand Prix (old specification, inset)

Mercedes W13 rear wing

Mercedes W13 rear wing

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The Mercedes designers seemingly took a leaf out of Alpine's book with its changes for the rear wing at the French Grand Prix, as the rear wing on the W13 didn't feature the usual cutout in the upper rear corner.

Mercedes W13 assembly  rear wing end plate

Mercedes W13 assembly rear wing end plate

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The outer corner of the rear wing had also been made in such a way that the team could make rapid changes, upon deciding which of the corner variants it preferred for a specific track and wing combination.

Mercedes W13 halo detail

Mercedes W13 halo detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

An old favourite made a return for the Hungarian Grand Prix, as a pair of boomerang winglets were fixed to the halo.

Mercedes W13 detail

Mercedes W13 detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

More changes were made to the scrolled portion of the edge wing in Belgium, as the team decided more isn't always better and reduced the number of upwash strikes from three to one. Also note the triangular fin mounted on the rear leg of the halo.

Mercedes W13 rear wing, Italian GP, FP1, FP2

Mercedes W13 rear wing, Italian GP, FP1, FP2

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

In years gone by teams have designed one-off rear wings for the challenges posed by the high-speed nature of Monza but, with the budget cap in place and teams having to be selective about how they use their resources, Mercedes opted to adapt a low downforce specification wing it had already used. Featuring the conventionally shaped mainplane and full endplate corner, it then trimmed the trailing edge of the upper flap and added a Gurney flap.

Mercedes W13 rear wing, Italian GP, Qualifying, Race

Mercedes W13 rear wing, Italian GP, Qualifying, Race

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

To boost straightline speed the team removed the Gurney it used during FP1 and FP2.

Mercedes W13 beam wing

Mercedes W13 beam wing

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

In order to reduce downforce and drag as much as possible, the team only ran one beam wing element too.

Mercedes W13 front wing comparison

Mercedes W13 front wing comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

A new front wing arrived at the US Grand Prix that not only featured a revised endplate design but also a new slot gap separator bracket arrangement. This feature proved to be controversial, owing to the aerodynamic effect they were expected to impart. As such, the FIA asked they be removed before the wing was put into service.

Mercedes W13 floor detail, United States GP

Mercedes W13 floor detail, United States GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Alterations were also made to the floor for the US Grand Prix, with a vertical baffle added where the floor joined to the edge wing.

Mercedes W13 floor detail

Mercedes W13 floor detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

A different specification floor was installed for FP1 in Mexico as Nyck de Vries took to the wheel of the W13, with the ramped section, outer floor fence and edge wing all changed as the team looked to verify some of its thoughts heading into 2023.

Mercedes W13 front wing detail, Mexican GP

Mercedes W13 front wing detail, Mexican GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The new front wing seen at COTA also reappeared but the team had removed the controversial slot gap separator brackets, installing its standard ones instead.

Mercedes W13 rear wing comparison

Mercedes W13 rear wing comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

In Brazil, with development halted, the Mercedes drivers settled on different aerodynamic configurations in order to find the right balance for the circuit.

Mercedes W13 rear wing comparison

Mercedes W13 rear wing comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The trend continued in Abu Dhabi, albeit its final decisions only split by the installation of Gurney on the trailing edge of the upper flap for Russell on this occasion.

Mercedes W12 open drum

Mercedes W12 open drum

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

A look at the front brake duct assembly, with the various channels used to deliver cool air to the brake calipers and discs, whilst also helping with the transfer of heat between the various components and surfaces.

Mercedes W12 open drum

Mercedes W12 open drum

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Now with the rear pipework in place, we can appreciate how the heat is taken away from the caliper and circulated around the drum and out of the rear-facing outlet mounted on the end fence.

Mercedes W12 closed drum

Mercedes W12 closed drum

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Finishing off the assembly with the drum mounted on top and creating a sealed chamber, in order that the internal flow channels aren't disrupted by the wheel rim.

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