Mercedes Formula 1 team explains tech tricks for Monaco circuit

The Mercedes Formula 1 team has explained the solutions it introduces to deal with the unique demands of the Monaco Grand Prix, including a special front suspension

Mercedes Formula 1 team explains tech tricks for Monaco circuit

While Mercedes has swept to the last four F1 drivers' and constructors' titles, it has been vulnerable in Monaco - where it was comfortably beaten by Ferrari last year and was fortunate not to lose out to Red Bull in 2016.

Monaco carries bespoke considerations such as how aggressive the ride height can be to deal with the street circuit's bumps and how to get the most out of the engine at lower rev ranges - which is another quirk of the classic track.

F1 teams also need to consider how to cope with the added steering lock required to negotiate the Loews hairpin, the tightest turn on the calendar, and the longer wheelbase of Mercedes' F1 challenger makes that task particularly important.

Mercedes utilises a special front suspension to deal with what it claims is 40% more lock applied at the famous Monaco hairpin than that of Montreal, which is next up on the calendar.

The team's Monaco-specific setting produces a bigger road wheel angle, which reduces the number of turns of the steering wheel required to negotiate the 50km/h (31mph) corner and does not limit the driver to one line to get round.

Mercedes has also detailed how the downforce benefits of its long-wheelbase W09 gives it an overall advantage, despite theoretically being less competitive on the slower twists and turns of Monte Carlo where it gets "the least benefit".

It estimates that if the wheelbase was the only differentiator between two cars than a shorter wheelbase would be faster by "less than a tenth", but this is not as significant as the loss in downforce compared to a long-wheelbase car in reality.

Monaco's lower speeds reduces the airflow too, which makes cooling tougher.

This is why in Barcelona testing last week Mercedes trialled its favoured solution of 'opening' the top of the engine cover.

Mercedes has already made subtle tweaks to its car this season in a bid to extract more from a package that proved difficult before a dominant victory in Spain.

It adopted a Sauber-like front suspension fin at Barcelona, combining the raised upper wishbone pioneered by Mercedes in 2017 with a large winglet to guide airflow around the upper corner of the tyre and reduce the turbulence this would ordinarily create.

While Monaco will be the highest-downforce requirement of the season, the previous races in Azerbaijan and Spain have provided clear examples of the solutions employed for different downforce levels.

Mercedes swapped a Baku-spec rear wing that swept upwards at the outer edges for a Barcelona version with a straight leading edge.

You can also see how the length of the chord on the main plane and flag also changes, with the Barcelona spec creating more downforce outboard.

Expert View
By Gary Anderson

Monaco has always required more steering lock than any other circuit, and the road wheel angle you need just for the Loews hairpin is also helpful if you have to try to pass a car through some of the other parts of the track.

I suppose the main question is why not design the car with 20 degrees of steering angle to use at all circuits? The answer is fairly simple. The suspension components would be either heavier or less stiff, so it's a little compromise you don't want to make if you don't need to.

Mercedes says it has the longest wheelbase car in the pitlane, not as relatively extreme as last year but still longer than all the rest. So, the question is will this give the team more problems in Monaco?

Monaco is one circuit out of 21 in 2018. Again, it's that word 'compromise'. The car will be a little lazier, with potentially a little more understeer than a shorter wheelbase car.

A longer car produces more downforce, which is correct because the low pressure under the car has more surface area to work on.

To work out a figure for that extra downforce is fairly difficult, but if we make a couple of assumptions we can get an idea of why Mercedes persists with the concept.

If the other cars' wheelbase is 3200mm and Mercedes' is 3400mm, and the underfloor surface is 50% of the wheelbase, that would give us an extra 100mm of underfloor length.

Based on the shorter wheelbase cars having an underfloor length of 1600mm, that means the Mercedes underfloor is 6% larger in surface area. If the underfloor produces 20% of the car's overall downforce that means that extra underfloor surface area equates to roughly 1.2% of the car's overall downforce.

So, if a 'normal' wheelbase car produces 1600kg at the normal downforce quoted speed of 240km/h (149mph) then that 1.2% equals 19.2kg.

With the average pole speed in Monaco last year 166km/h (103mph), and considering that downforce is produced at the square of the car's speed, that means an increase in downforce of 9.2kg.

On normal circuits, where the average speed is higher, the benefit is even greater.

shares
comments
Aston Martin sets out timeline for 2021 Formula 1 entry decision
Previous article

Aston Martin sets out timeline for 2021 Formula 1 entry decision

Next article

Claire Williams: F1 Team not in 'spiral of decline' or 'on way out'

Claire Williams: F1 Team not in 'spiral of decline' or 'on way out'
Why it's Red Bull that really leads a three-way fight so far at Silverstone Plus

Why it's Red Bull that really leads a three-way fight so far at Silverstone

After a slow start to Friday at Silverstone, all the Formula 1 teams had to effectively cram in a day’s worth of practice into one hour. But there was still plenty to learn and while Ferrari topped the times, a three-way battle is brewing ahead of the British Grand Prix

Why the future is bright for the British GP Plus

Why the future is bright for the British GP

It wasn’t so long ago the situation looked bleak at Silverstone with the future of the British Grand Prix under threat. But a transformation has seen it restored to one of the most important races on the Formula 1 calendar, with bigger and better to come

Formula 1
Jul 1, 2022
Could mixed fortunes for F1's leading Brits turn around at Silverstone? Plus

Could mixed fortunes for F1's leading Brits turn around at Silverstone?

For the first time in many years, none of the local racers starts among the favourites for the British Grand Prix. But George Russell, Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris could have reasons for optimism

Formula 1
Jun 30, 2022
Verstappen exclusive: Why F1’s champion isn’t fazed by Silverstone return Plus

Verstappen exclusive: Why F1’s champion isn’t fazed by Silverstone return

Max Verstappen is the world’s number one racing driver… and he’s determined to keep it that way. Speaking exclusively to GP Racing's OLEG KARPOV, the Red Bull driver explains why he’s relishing the 2022 championship battle with Charles Leclerc – and why he’s not worried about returning to Silverstone, the scene of the biggest accident of his career last year

Formula 1
Jun 30, 2022
Why Red Bull’s RB17 hypercar can help its F1 team Plus

Why Red Bull’s RB17 hypercar can help its F1 team

On Tuesday, Red Bull laid out its plans to develop and build a new hypercar - the RB17 - penned by Adrian Newey. As the project itself sates Newey as a creative outlet, it also offers Red Bull's Formula 1 team a number of new and exciting avenues to pursue

Formula 1
Jun 29, 2022
What to expect from Mercedes as F1 returns to Silverstone Plus

What to expect from Mercedes as F1 returns to Silverstone

OPINION: The British Grand Prix is a home event for Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, with their Mercedes team based just a few miles away too. But there’s another reason why the Silver Arrows squad is eager to arrive at Silverstone this weekend, which may help it fix its remaining problems with its 2022 Formula 1 challenger

Formula 1
Jun 29, 2022
The “solemn promise” that cost quiet hero Brooks an F1 title Plus

The “solemn promise” that cost quiet hero Brooks an F1 title

After two terrifying crashes, one of the best British racers of the 1950s retired before his career peaked. But that’s why GP Racing’s MAURICE HAMILTON was able to speak to Tony Brooks in 2014. Like his friend Stirling Moss, Brooks was regarded as one of the best drivers never to have won the world championship. Here, as our tribute to Brooks who died last month, is that interview in full

Formula 1
Jun 27, 2022
Inside the Faenza facility where AlphaTauri’s F1 pragmatic vision is realised Plus

Inside the Faenza facility where AlphaTauri’s F1 pragmatic vision is realised

AlphaTauri’s mission in F1 is to sell clothes and train young drivers rather than win the championship – but you still need a cutting-edge factory to do that. Team boss Franz Tost takes GP Racing’s OLEG KARPOV on a guided tour of a facility that’s continuing to grow

Formula 1
Jun 26, 2022