OCTOBER 21, 2011
Mercedes experiments with trick front wing
Mercedes has come up with a front wing development that is believed to ape the banned F-duct concept and energises the diffuser.
The wing was tried by the team in the Japanese and Korean grands prix and features an aperture in the nose. Air flow is then channeled down the front wing support pillars and exits through angled slots in the front wing to boost the airflow to the diffuser.
The arrangement gets around an FIA rule that limits the area of the front wing that teams can work with to create aerodynamic effect.
With the 2012 regulations demanding top-body exiting exhausts in association with engine mapping restrictions, designers will be left trying to recover lost downforce from the diffuser and it looks as if Mercedes could have stolen a march.
The MGP W02 displayed increased competitiveness in Japan and Korea, with Nico Rosberg able to hang onto the lead pack in Korea before he flat-spotted a tyre while defending from Felipe Massa.
That, and improved tyre durability, previously a bugbear for the car, would hint at improved downforce levels, suggesting that the wing is indeed a step forward.
Whereas F-ducts required the driver to initiate the device's function by covering up holes in the cockpit, prompting a change to the rules banning such action this year, the Mercedes front wing is legal because it is passive and operates solely through changes of air pressure.
The timing of the wing's arrival appears a little strange. It might have been expected that the team would keep it under wraps until, say, the final pre-season test of 2012, in order to reduce copying time.
Against that, however, front wing design has a fundamental effect on overall car performance and it could be that the team surmised that it is better to gauge the effectiveness of the wing while the 2012 car is still in the gestation stage.