Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe

The front-wing legality trick spotted on the new Mercedes F1 car

Mercedes is back on the offensive, with plenty of interesting new details already being spotted on its new W15 Formula 1 car on shakedown day.

George Russell, Mercedes W15

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.

One of the more fascinating of these was, as would probably be expected, hidden in the launch renders but could be seen in the images taken of the real car as the team conducted its filming day at Silverstone.

The area in question is the uppermost front wing flap (highlighted in the image below), which comes in two segments (red and blue arrows), both of which require each other to pass the FIA’s legality checks.

Mercedes W15 front wing detail

Mercedes W15 front wing detail

Photo by: Mercedes AMG

It is a fascinating take on the wording of the regulations, but whether the design is robust enough to withstand further scrutiny from the FIA, or even complaints from other teams, remains to be seen. It also cannot be completely ruled out it being a ruse aimed to distract the opposition from other areas on its car.

Whatever the outcome, it offers us a pretty clear indication of Mercedes being back to its best in coming up with intriguing solutions to try to eke out more performance.

Mercedes W15 front wing detail

Mercedes W15 front wing detail

Photo by: Mercedes AMG

The front wing concept in question sees a very slender element used at the top of the wing in the non-moveable, inboard section (red arrow).

This thin strip of material simply exists for legality purposes, because the rules allow a maximum of four closed sections across the wing’s span.

Further out, the outboard portion of the upper flap has what we would consider a conventional chord. But rather than the flap being run up the side of the inboard metal adjuster as would happen with a normal layout, the flap tapers to a raised point above it (blue arrow), similar to how front wing elements were used in the previous regulations to alter the Y250 vortex that was being shed from the mainplane juncture below them. 

In this instance the same might be applicable, albeit on a smaller scale, with the triangular metal adjuster and the flap creating a shedding surface.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W15

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W15

Photo by: Mercedes AMG

Notably, Mercedes has also changed the layout of its mainplane and nose for 2024, with the nose shorter than its predecessors, as the tip is now perched on the second element of the front wing, rather than right at the front of the mainplane. 

This has facilitated a change in the mainplane’s shape, with the team fancying a drooping variant this season, rather than one lifted to meet the nose.

This will obviously have a bearing on the airflow’s trajectory and could be used as a means to set up a flow structure that will be beneficial for its new flap configuration too.

Read Also:

It will be interesting to see how both the governing body and rival teams react to the arrival of this design from Mercedes, as it might not offer the level of performance that’s expected of something that looks so radically different.

Furthermore, it could be argued that it moves away from the original intention of the technical regulations when they were first drafted.

Now the onus will be on other teams to work out if it is an idea they need to pursue themselves, complain about, or if they are happy to sit back and wait to see its impact.

Be part of the Autosport community

Join the conversation
Previous article Can McLaren's evolutionary-but-innovative MCL38 deliver Norris' first F1 win?
Next article How to watch F1 pre-season testing in 2024

Top Comments

There are no comments at the moment. Would you like to write one?

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe