Tech verdict: How Mercedes struck back at Suzuka

Mercedes achieved a monumental feat in Japan, becoming the first team in the Formula 1 history to capture six back-to-back drivers’ and constructors’ F1 World Championships. What makes this particularly impressive is that it has been able to achieve this through a sequence of regulation changes, which shows it could adapt and develop a range of circumstances.

 

This season is no exception, as Mercedes had to overcome advances from its rivals during a period of regulatory flux.

The 2019 progress had been stunted since the summer break, as Ferrari enjoyed a renaissance that’s challenged the Silver Arrows at circuits that it never expected to. Keen to both maintain its development trajectory over the course of the season and overturn this resurgence, Mercedes implemented a major update for the Japanese Grand Prix.

It’s important to note that while Mercedes would have been keen to make up ground on Ferrari, the development that we’ve seen from the Silver Arrows in Japan is not something that can be achieved in a short space of time, and this was always a development waypoint in their 2019 program. Although that’s not to say that some resource had not been shifted back to this year’s project in order to refine the package further.

Mercedes AMG F1 W10, detail front wing

Mercedes AMG F1 W10, detail front wing

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The smallest of aerodynamic details can often have the most profound effect on the rest of the car, and none more so than when it’s a change made to the front wing. For the Japanese GP, Mercedes had just that: a small canard was added to the outer face of the endplate. This will not only shed a vortex from the trailing edge that will have an aerodynamic impact downstream but it will also alter the pressure gradient across the endplates surface, a key factor in yaw.

Mercedes AMG F1 W10 old bargeboard

Mercedes AMG F1 W10 old bargeboard

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The development of the region ahead and around the side-pods of this generation of cars has been fierce, with teams constantly looking to find new, or old, solutions to the problems at hand. The regulation reset this year, although not heavily focused on this area, caused teams to constantly rethink their approach, with each change to a link in the aerodynamic daisy chain having an impact on the other. It’s why, when we see a change at the front of the car, as we did with Mercedes in Japan, it often coincides with alterations to the car’s midriff and the rear of the car too.

Mercedes AMG F1 W10, Japanese GP bargeboard

Mercedes AMG F1 W10, Japanese GP bargeboard

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Mercedes altered almost every surface connected to the deflector array, outer forwardmost section of the floor and side-pod airflow conditioner in Japan as it continues to find aerodynamic performance from dealing with the turbulence created by the front wheel.

Mercedes AMG F1 W10, Japanese GP bargeboard

Mercedes AMG F1 W10, Japanese GP bargeboard

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

[1] The main vertical panel and the slat that runs across the upper surface of the side-pod previously framed the corner of the side-pod. However, in the latest update, the connection between the two was severed. [2] The leading vertical panel was one of the only carryover items in the entire assembly. [3] The team added another horizontal section of bodywork that bridged the gap between the two floor mounted deflectors. [4] The number of horizontal slats used in the middle portion of the deflector array has been increased from four to five, whilst the lowermost pair no longer extend beyond their siblings. [5] The upturned edge of the floor was reproofed, and another arched element was added above it, which also provides an anchor point for the main vertical panel.

Mercedes AMG F1 W10 floor

Mercedes AMG F1 W10 floor

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

A new fin appeared on the floor beside the rear tyre (red arrow), as the team simply looks to better redirect the airflow that’s now passing down the car to that region.

 

Giorgio Piola F1 Updates...

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