Mercedes unleashes its biggest F1 car update of 2018 so far

Mercedes has unleashed the biggest update of the season so far for its Formula 1 car at the Austrian Grand Prix, as it bids to pull clear of Ferrari and Red Bull

Mercedes unleashes its biggest F1 car update of 2018 so far

Just a week after Mercedes introduced an engine upgrade in France, a raft of changes to the W09 - including to the sidepods and rear wing - are proof of an aggressive push at this stage of the season.

Giorgio Piola and Matt Somerfield look at the changes that have been spotted at the Red Bull Ring.

Having opted for a more conventional sidepod layout, rather than the concept introduced by Ferrari in 2017 that was copied by several other teams, Mercedes locked itself into that route for the entire season.

But with a well thought out plan to make a change, tweaks made in this area to play both to the aerodynamic demands of the car as well as helping the engine operate at its maximum potential.

The sidepod update consists of several changes, which all centre around the slimming of the inlet and targeted as a way of improving flow consistency around the sidepod's undercut to the rear of the car.

On the upper corner of the sidepod bodywork, and connected to the slat that runs over its leading edge, a new flow diverter can be found (red arrow).

This not only aims to change the direction of the airflow's travel but also encloses the side impact protection spar that might otherwise protrude out of the bodywork.

The W09's facelift goes beyond to the sidepods, with a new outboard mirror stalk installed to support the mirrors already lengthened ahead of the French GP.

The stalk clearly fulfils an aerodynamic purpose though, as at its base the surface is twisted to encourage airflow to travel in a certain direction.

At the rear of the car, the Brackley design team has taken a leaf out of McLaren's book (inset). McLaren has utilised the wording minutiae in the regulations to add overhanging strakes in a box area that's supposed to create the transition between the wider upper section of the wing to that of the narrower lower section.

The aggressive overhaul in Austria is in contrast to a relatively minor change that was made at the French GP to a winglet on its front brake duct.

The usual single element (inset) was cast aside in favour of a twin element configuration.

The role of these winglets is to improve the direction and flow quality of the air as it is disturbed by the front wing and passes by the brake duct fence and suspension elements.

This in turn reduces the turbulence created by the tyre alongside and has a performance knock-on effect for the aerodynamic surfaces downstream.

shares
comments
Red Bull had to 'stabilise' Verstappen after early F1 2018 mistakes

Previous article

Red Bull had to 'stabilise' Verstappen after early F1 2018 mistakes

Next article

Secrets of Hamilton's speed revealed

Secrets of Hamilton's speed revealed
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Teams Mercedes
Author Giorgio Piola
The AlphaTauri improvements that mean Gasly’s form is no fluke Plus

The AlphaTauri improvements that mean Gasly’s form is no fluke

Pierre Gasly has driven superbly since demotion from Red Bull in 2019, but the team formerly known as Toro Rosso has come on strong too – building a car that can often challenge Ferrari and McLaren. Here Gasly reveals to ALEX KALINAUCKAS how AlphaTauri has given him the tools needed to rebuild his reputation

Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish” Plus

Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish”

We’ve seen five distinct versions of Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes as he’s tried to fulfil his own ambitions while being a consummate team player – two difficult, competing missions which have been challenging to reconcile. Speaking exclusively to STUART CODLING, Bottas explains his highs and lows… and why he still believes he can be world champion

Formula 1
May 15, 2021
Does Aston have a case in F1 2021’s big technical row? Plus

Does Aston have a case in F1 2021’s big technical row?

Aston Martin claims Formula 1’s latest technical tweaks have cost it competitiveness – and that it’s the innocent victim of a regulatory stitch-up aimed at pegging back Mercedes. But is any of this actually true? It depends on who you ask, says STUART CODLING

Formula 1
May 14, 2021
How long can F1 2021's brewing title battle stay clean? Plus

How long can F1 2021's brewing title battle stay clean?

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been evenly matched so far in the 2021 Formula 1 title race. Neither has been afraid to get aggressive against each other on track, teeing up an enthralling contest as the year unwinds. But is their rivalry destined to end in broken shards of carbon fibre?

Formula 1
May 13, 2021
What the Spain result tells F1 about the next phase of the Mercedes/Red Bull title fight Plus

What the Spain result tells F1 about the next phase of the Mercedes/Red Bull title fight

OPINION: Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have recovered from their pre-season woes to take three wins from the opening four races of 2021. But each time Red Bull and Max Verstappen have pushed them hard. So, what clues did the latest round of that battle – the Spanish Grand Prix – tease about the next stage of the season?

Formula 1
May 12, 2021
How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner Plus

How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner

The Brabham BT46B raced once, won once, then vanished – or did it? STUART CODLING reveals the story of the car which was never actually banned…

Formula 1
May 11, 2021
The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle Plus

The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle

Formula 1’s visits to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over recent years have been met with familiar criticisms despite tweaks here and there to the track to improve racing. With the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix largely going the same way, proper solutions need to be followed to achieve F1’s wider targets

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Often described as Formula 1's laboratory, the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona gave the clearest demonstration yet of the pecking order in 2021. And it's the key discrepancies from that order which illuminate who is excelling, and who needs to hit the reset button

Formula 1
May 10, 2021