Secrets of Mercedes Formula 1 car's front suspension

Formula 1 world champion Mercedes finally turned its W09 into a winner in Baku, but knows it needs to understand its car better to extract more performance from the tyres

Secrets of Mercedes Formula 1 car's front suspension

A key area of focus to make progress on this front will be the suspension system that, as Giorgio Piola's exclusive drawings and video show, features some unique ideas.

Packaging the front suspension of a F1 car is no easy task. There are just so many components to find space for and on top of what we can see there are things we can't, such as the pedals, master cylinders and, importantly, the driver's feet.

The tight area to work within means there has to be a clear place for everything and the 2018 Mercedes is no exception.

It has the common top-and-bottom carbon wishbone and a carbon pushrod operating inboard rockers (1).

Where the black top part of the pushrod changes to the silver part there are shims (slightly darker silver) to alter the ride height. As the angle of the pushrod is about 45 degrees, adding a 0.5mm shim will raise the ride height by roughly 1mm.

Looking at the car from the front, it has torsion/springs on both sides (3). The left-hand torsion/spring will be splined into the machined-out rocker.

As the two additional rockers (4) are joined together in the middle with a solid link that effectively creates a third connecting rocker to help the other two drive the anti-roll bar, the small-toothed plate on the right-hand side rocker is to locate the torsion/spring to that rocker. Having this small plate will allow adjustment so there is no preload on the system.

The interesting thing is where Mercedes has fitted the front anti-roll bar. It is inside the left-hand torsion spring (3 indicates the left and right). Its lower spline will fit into a spline on the inner diameter of the left-hand torsion/spring and its top spline will be driven by the small-toothed plate.

When the car sits on the ground and the aerodynamic force starts to build up, the left-hand rocker will rotate clockwise. The right-hand rocker will rotate anti-clockwise and with the solid link connecting them in the middle they will rotate at the same ratio, closing the gap between them, effectively acting as a central damper.

When the car reaches a certain speed that central gap will become zero and the car will then sit on the silver mesh-style bump stop. In a straight line, this will then reduce the car's vertical movement dramatically as this bump stop is very stiff.

But in a right-hand corner when the car builds up lateral force and the chassis rolls, the left-hand rocker will rotate anti-clockwise and the right-hand rocker will also rotate anti-clockwise. This will then twist the anti-roll bar. In this condition, it is the sum of the anti-roll bar stiffness and the torsion/spring that gives the car its roll stiffness.

Just to explain what a torsion/spring is, it is a round bar or tube with a spline at each end, something like 15-25cm long. One end is anchored to the chassis down at the driver's feet and the other end to the rocker.

When the suspension moves downwards, it twists the bar and this is the stiffness that supports the car. A larger diameter, a thicker wall thickness, or a shorter torsion/spring will increase the vertical stiffness. The anti-roll bar design is very similar but the function is very different.

The torsion bar (2), power-steering assembly (5) and tyre tethers (6) are also shown.

shares
comments
Spanish Grand Prix Formula 1 tyre choices, Williams goes aggressive

Previous article

Spanish Grand Prix Formula 1 tyre choices, Williams goes aggressive

Next article

10 unforgettable Ayrton Senna moments

10 unforgettable Ayrton Senna moments
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Teams Mercedes
Author Edd Straw
Why Mercedes isn't confident it's really ahead of Red Bull at Imola Plus

Why Mercedes isn't confident it's really ahead of Red Bull at Imola

While Mercedes struck back against Red Bull by topping the times at Imola on Friday ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, the overall picture remains incredibly close. Despite having a possible edge this weekend, the reigning Formula 1 world champion squad is not taking anything for granted...

What Mercedes must do to keep its F1 title challenge on track Plus

What Mercedes must do to keep its F1 title challenge on track

Mercedes may find itself leading the drivers' and constructors' standings after Lewis Hamilton's victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix, but it is well-aware that it came against the odds, with Red Bull clearly ahead on pace. Here's what the Brackley team must do to avoid its crown slipping

Why Tsunoda can become Japan’s greatest F1 talent Plus

Why Tsunoda can become Japan’s greatest F1 talent

While Japan's fever for motor racing is well-documented, the country has yet to produce a Formula 1 superstar – but that could be about to change, says BEN EDWARDS

Formula 1
Apr 15, 2021
Why the demise of F1's hypocritical spending habit is cause for celebration Plus

Why the demise of F1's hypocritical spending habit is cause for celebration

For too long, F1's richest teams have justified being able to spend as much as they want because that's the way they've always conducted their business. STUART CODLING says that's no reason not to kick a bad habit

Formula 1
Apr 14, 2021
The double whammy that is defining Vettel’s F1 fate Plus

The double whammy that is defining Vettel’s F1 fate

It's been a tough start to Sebastian Vettel's Aston Martin F1 career, with a lack of pre-season testing mileage followed by an incident-packed Bahrain GP. But two key underlying factors mean a turnaround is not guaranteed

Formula 1
Apr 14, 2021
The diva that stole a march on F1’s wide-bodied opposition Plus

The diva that stole a march on F1’s wide-bodied opposition

In 2017 new F1 technical regulations were supposed to add drama - and peg Mercedes back. STUART CODLING looks at the car which, while troubled, set the stage for the wide-bodied Formula 1 era

Formula 1
Apr 13, 2021
The themes to watch in F1’s Imola return Plus

The themes to watch in F1’s Imola return

Three weeks is a long time in Formula 1, but in the reshaped start to the 2021 season the teams head to Imola to pick things up after the frenetic Bahrain opener. Here's what to look out for and the developments to follow at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

Formula 1
Apr 13, 2021
The 'new' F1 drivers who need to improve at Imola Plus

The 'new' F1 drivers who need to improve at Imola

After a pandemic-hit winter of seat-swapping, F1 kicked off its season with several new faces in town, other drivers adapting to new environments, and one making a much-anticipated comeback. BEN ANDERSON looks at who made the most of their opportunity and who needs to try harder…

Formula 1
Apr 12, 2021