Mercedes W02 – New front wing analysis

After three tests Mercedes produced their updated front wing at Barcelona today.  Elements of this wing have been seen on the Launch specification wing, such as the extra slot made in the main plane.  The wing (main plain and flap) itself is largely similar to the launch spec wing, while the endplate and cascades have been changed.  Mercedes front wing design harks back to the Brawn BGP001 of 2009.  The BGP001 pioneered the idea of the endplate-less wing.  With the wider wings for that season sitting as far out as the width of the tyres, the contemporary endplates before that time, no longer worked to direct  flow inside the front wheel.  Brawns aerodynamicists reshaped the wing to best redirect flow around the front wheel and effectively removed the vertical endplate and replaced it with vanes. These vanes are there to both redirect airflow and to meet the minimum bodywork rules.  To aid downforce in the area inboard of the front tyres, Brawns designers added a free standing winglet, known as a cascade.  Through out 2009 and 2010 Brawn\Mercedes developed the wing, but retained the two element layout.  The new wing retains all of these features to some extent.

Mercedes W02 launch spec front wing

The free standing cascade has been retained, but this is now aided by a small additional winglet inboard of the main winglet.  The split between the two winglets is inline with the inner face of the front tyre. This is not coincidence, as the two winglets seek to create tip vortices trailing both inside and outside the front wheel to set up  the airflow structures dividing either side of the front wheel.

Detail changes to the endplate include a small cut out in the trailing edge and a complex leading edge.  The raised section of footplate (the horizontal outboard section of endplate) cleverly features a tiny vane inside.  this vane curves outwards and was a feature of Mercedes 2010 wing.

Mercedes have not gone as far as a full three element wing, across its full width.  Instead they have divided the wing into three sections across its width.  Near the endplate, the wings leading edge rises, this reduces the angle of attack and amount of load this area of the wing creates.  This is because the area in front of the tyre is not a good location for creating downforce, as the tyre sits directly downstream of the wing.  The inner span of the wing nearest the cars centreline is also much reduced in chord length and angle of attack, again downforce does not want to be created here, as the wake will upset airflow over the middle of the car.  Thus the middle of the wing span, which sits both away from the tyre and the centre of the car, is the area where most load is created on the wing.  We can see this section has both the greatest flap size and angle of attack.  To keep the airflow attached to the wing with its more aggressive geometry, Mercedes have moulded a slot into the main plane.  Higher pressure air above the wing enters the slots and helps keep the flow attached to the wings underside.  This section of wing is therefore a termed a three element (two slot) wing.  This creates downforce where its most efficient to do so, maximising downforce for the minimum drag and downstream disruption.

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22 thoughts on “Mercedes W02 – New front wing analysis

  1. One of the best article I read on your blog. Explanation on front wing disposition and choices seemed impossible for a non expert in aero with data from the team, now it is very clear and understandable !

  2. Many thanks for all these fascinating articles – 3 in 1 day must be some kind of record! Would’ve never believed that a front wing could be quite so complicated or, indeed clever.

    Roll on the racing however !!

  3. I was starting to wonder when you’d have something new for us, great update(s)!

    So what to call this new MGP wing? It’s not blown like the rear wings or diffusers, perhaps it’s a whisper wing?

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  5. Mr. Scarbs, I’m sorry to bring this up, but for any of your articles to truly make coherent sense you need to get your grammar and spelling correct.
    One trivial example is that you say “…the contemporary endplates before that time, no longer worked to direct flow in-between the front wheel…” “In-between the front wheel” and what other thing? You cannot have flow between a single thing. Or did you mean “wheels”?
    If you’re going to pretend to be an Engineer or an Aerodynamicist, you should make sure your writing is concise and accurate. Otherwise your errors leave your readers with several possible choices to guess at the true meaning.
    It’s apparent that your haste to publish is diminishing the quality and coherency of your writing.

    • {sigh} Sorry to be flippant, but this has been covered in many other threads. I’ll correct the points you’ve highlighted.

      I make no apologies for my spelling or grammar. I’ve used these words in replies many times in the past: “free service”, “dyslexia”, “done in my spare time”, “rush”, “picture paints a thousand words”. I prefer not to rake over the same topic.

    • Give the guy a break and stop being so perdantic.

      Some people are never happy.

      An he is not “pretending to be an Engineer” – his analysis and insight is respected more by the public F1 community than anyone else. He is also respected by many of the actual F1 team engineers and staff too.

    • Mr. Blue, Before you go accusing someone of pretending to be an engineer, you might want to read the “About” link in the right hand column. (posted below in case you can’t follow my simplistic directions)

      “My name is Craig Scarborough. I am a freelance journalist\illustrator who focusses solely on the technology of F1. I’ve been doing this for over ten years and I have followed the sport since the late seventies. Up until now my work has been published on the web through AtlasF1, as well as magazine work.

      I currently do not have a paid publisher for my work, so I am doing a ’best endeavours’ effort by self publishing through this blog and twitter. I am seeking magazine publishers who want a cost effective way to fill two pages per issue with an F1 technical feature.”

    • Just to answer your question – he means between the two outside edges of the same tyre. The air goes directly onto the wheel.

  6. i was looking at the under-body mercedes car in one of the pics… kinda curious what role that plays in creating more downforce.

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  8. Great work Craig, missing ur article from some days, its a long pause for u after Mclaren article…… Hope u r not getting tired by posting news after news and clear insight of the game…….. 🙂

  9. First I will let you know that my language is not english. I understand the meaning even if the words/spelling are wrong. And I like your work very much. I visit your your website every day. So I am shocked to read somebody being so pedantic to trying to correct a small error. It should be known now that being dyslexia is not a easy handicap.

  10. Thanks for all the great aero articles. I just find so much of this effort to design front wings is just crazy. Look at that thing! It’s ugly!

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