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How Mercedes joined the F1 distraction brigade with its W15 double suspension

Formula 1 launch season is a time when teams reveal their cars to the world but also do as much as they can to keep their best ideas a secret.

Mercedes W15 fake arm

Photo by: Mercedes AMG

Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis

Giorgio Piola is the preeminent Formula 1 technical journalist. Born in Genoa, Italy, Giorgio has covered the F1 World Championship since 1969, producing thousands of illustrations that have been reproduced in the world’s most prestigious motor racing publications.

It is why we saw different floors on McLaren images, and Red Bull tried to hide the sidepod inlets on its new RB20 to keep the prying eyes of rivals away from what it is really doing for a little while longer.

Sometimes though, teams go the extra mile beyond disguising what they are doing, by throwing a few deliberate distractions out there.

Remember the fake serrated floor that appeared on the Alfa Romeo launch images 12 months ago? 

Well, Mercedes seems to have joined the fun last week when closer inspection of its W15 launch renders showed something pretty unusual.

The images showed the car sprouting an additional suspension arm at the front of the car.

It was obviously some kind of joke from Mercedes, but it was one that didn't generate much attention on launch day as everyone appeared more focused on the proper changes the team had made.

But while the double suspension arm would be quite a stand-out on the current F1 grid, there is history of someone else trying something similar a few years ago.

In that instance we only have to travel back to 2019, as Williams attempted similar shenanigans when it used a separate fairing that appeared to enclose one of the wheel tethers on the FW42 (below, inset).

The obvious reasoning behind such a solution was aerodynamic, but Williams immediately fell foul of the FIA, which ordered it to enclose the tether within the fairing of the wishbone's lower rear leg, as is normally the case.

The regulations state, amongst other clauses, that there must be six suspension members connecting each suspension upright to the sprung mass. Redundant suspension members are not permitted.

On the front axle, one suspension member per wheel must be connected to the steering system.

For Mercedes, it is an idea that could never have existed in real life but, amid the intrigue over its radical front-wing legality trick, maybe it was an attempt to divert the attention of its rivals and potentially waste some of their time pondering whether it was real or a joke.

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