JULY 22, 2023

First F1 mudguard test a failure?

The first test of anti-rain 'mudguards' to improve drivers' visibility did not go well.

Lando Norris, Canadian GP 2023
© McLaren

Following the death of a junior category driver at the treacherous Spa-Francorchamps circuit recently, Formula 1 vowed to trial an innovation designed to minimise spray that has only worsened in the ground-effect era.

Mercedes and McLaren took part in the trial of the Mercedes-made prototype mudguards at the post-British GP test at Silverstone on an artificially watered section of the circuit.

Mick Schumacher's Mercedes was fitted with the fenders, and Oscar Piastri's McLaren ran without them for a back-to-back comparison.

I mean, there's more work to do on them, Mercedes' engineering boss Andrew Shovlin admitted in Hungary.

They're not ready to be moved into production and regulation at the moment. There's definitely work to do.

Shovlin said that while spray is reduced with the devices attached, you still get a lot coming from the diffuser, in the way that the rear wing is pulling it up.

That's all very powerful, he added. "But it was interesting first steps and we're providing the car and some bits to do that development.

It's the FIA's project to decide where that goes next and what happens in the future.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, however, called the test nothing short of a failure.

There was still too much spray, said correspondent Andreas Haupt. And according to observers, the aesthetics of the fenders left a lot to be desired.

Photos of the test have not been released, and an FIA insider admitted: We are not yet where we want to be with it.

A spokesman for the Paris-based federation, meanwhile, added: "The test provided valuable CFD correlation data as well as good driver feedback.

Both will be used to refine both the methodology and the design for phase 2 of this project.