UPDATE: Mercedes F-Duct Front Wing

Another possibility with the Mercedes stalling front wing is that it allows an opportunity to play with the linearity of the cars ride height. In particular the proximity of the splitter to the ground at different speeds. Looking at this in comparison to other possible uses, I would suggest this is a more realistic and beneficial solution than those initial proposed (https://scarbsf1.wordpress.com/2011/10/21/mercedes-f-duct-front-wing/).

As has been much discussed, the front wing needs to run as low as possible to create downforce. To achieve this teams run as lower front ride height as possible. The limitation of a low front wing ride height is the front splitter grounding, this becomes an increasing problem as speed increases and the aero load builds up and compresses the front suspension. So at the ‘End of the Straight’ (EOS) at very high speed the car is at its lowest and splitter is grounding. This forces the car to have a higher ride height, to keep the plank from wearing away in the EOS condition. Thus at lower speeds the front ride height is correspondingly higher, compromising the potential of the wing.

If Mercedes stall the front wing as the car reaches top speed, hence above the speed of any corner on the track. Then when the wing stalls, the load on the front axle will suddenly decrease and the front ride height will increase. Effectively the ride height\speed map is no longer linear. Ride height will decrease linearly at lower speeds, then above the speed of the circuit’s fastest corner, the wing stalls and ride height increases.
What this allows the race engineers to do is shift the ‘ride height curve’ down the map for a lower initial (static) ride height. Knowing that the splitter will not ground in the end of straight condition. Therefore with the unstalled wing having a lower ride height, more downforce can be generated. When the wing is stalled the lack of downforce is less consequential as the car is on the straight. Plus there may still be the small boost in top speed from the lack of induced drag from the stalled wing.

One other potential of such a solution is the front wing grounding. We have seen the midseason version of the Mercedes front wing ground quite easily in some turns this year. So as with splitter ride height, endplate ride height at top speed may become the limiting factor in benefiting from the wing flexing at lower speeds. Stalling the wing on the straight will see the load on the wing decrease and the wing will naturally flex upwards. Giving the opportunity to flex more at slow speeds and have the stall prevent grounding on the straight.

In comparison to the manipulation of the CofP to resolve handling problems I initially proposed, this would be a more likely purpose of the stalling wing. Perhaps more importantly this would be a universal solution, one that other teams could legally adopt in preference to flexible splitters or excessive rear ride height to achieve lower front ride heights.

19 thoughts on “UPDATE: Mercedes F-Duct Front Wing

  1. Craig, I think there’s a typo here : “Ride height will decrease linearly at lower speeds, then above the speed of the circuit’s fastest corner, the wing stalls and ride height decreases.” You mean “increases” at the end there, surely?

  2. Craig, That seems to be a better analysis of the front wing stalling..
    But I have a question.. Say at the EOS with the front wings stalled, the driver goes for the overtaking.. how stable will the front end be underbraking? Underbraking the flow inlet on the nose will close with decreasing frontal air presuure, the flow need to reattach.. so was wondering a a move underbraking make the car unstable.. Have you given a though on this.
    Because I remember Mercerdes GP having a problem with the Rear wing F duct when the flow will no reattach soon enough and they suffered a lot in the braking zone.

    • I was thinking the same thing, that you need to be very certain of the re-attachment as you go into a bend. If the front suspension is unloaded at EOS then there is less downforce as well as drag so one would need to be damn sure that the flow was going to re-attach before the corner.

      • I think this would only be an issue for high speed corners as if the corner was low speed the act of breaking before the entry would slow the car and give enough time for the airflow to re-attach and stabilise.

        One other benefit of this system (as well as the old F-duct systems) is that as the drag is reduced so is the fuel efficiency possibly allowing a little bit less fuel to be carried. It will only be a very small difference in fuel but as we know a small difference over the length of a race can be quite a benefit.

  3. I am not sure what amazes me more, the inventiveness of the teams to constantly keep bringing new clever ways to make the cars go faster around the tracks, or how you are able to spot and re-engineer these things to figure out what they do Craig!


  4. Wow, what an line of thoughts. That’s very impressive. There’s every year something revolutionary new, but in the las years, the things gets more and more abstract. Till 2008, the area before the actuall cars, there were the inovations new wing configurations or another board or vane to lead the air round the car. The doubble diffuser of 20009 was clearly understandable and also a (more or less) logical step. But I need very long, to understand the mode of operating of that system. You musst be really crazy to coin something. Than, the blown diffuser was also understandable. But the appendant engine mapping was another prize exhibit of highest art of engineering. And now this. I’m curious what else we’re going to see next season.
    Thanks Craig!

  5. Good to see Mercedes on top of this new inovation. I hope Adrian Newey is keeping track of your blog, after loosing their see-saw splitter they will need something to keep that wing low.

  6. The biggest question for me here that now that everyone saw what mercedes is up to, will not everybody else copy it for next year? If they do then mercedes will loose the benefit from their innovation…
    But someone from inside the sport said, that the competition is already late to copy this for next year…

    Scarbs, what do you think, what is the truth? I believe they have enough time to implement it.

    • Martin Withmarsh said it, and I bet.. If anyone can copy, reverse engineer and engineer again McLaren can. It Might be late, 2-3 months in to the design of next years car and then such a change that alters many things slighly. But likewise in 2009 when 3 teams showed up with DD it was soon copied, 2010 F-duct, copied within a month or so, surtenly if they act now they can test their versions in the final races of this year.

      I hope to see if someone does.

  7. Craig, given that article 3.7.8 of the 2011 technical regulations specifically states that the nose inlet must be used for driver cooling I don’t see how the solution you have described is legal. see below

    3.7.8 Only a single section, which must be open, may be contained within any longitudinal vertical cross section taken parallel to the car centre line forward of a point 150mm ahead of the front wheel centre line, less than 250mm from the car centre line and more than 125mm above the reference plane.
    Any cameras or camera housings approved by the FIA in addition to a single inlet aperture for the purpose of driver cooling (such aperture having a maximum projected surface area of 1500mm2 and being situated forward of the section referred to in Article 15.4.3) will be exempt from the above.

  8. Looks like MGP were testing with a nose solution before locating the duct to the chassis. If it’s linked to the brake pedal then stalling part of the front wing during braking and initial turn-in would help reduce over steer. Good move

  9. Pingback: Mercedes: F-Duct Front Wing operated by the Rear Wing DRS | Scarbsf1's Blog

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  11. Won’t this only be of limited benefit during the race though? Sure, during qualifying where you can use the DRS all the time, it will be beneficial. But during the race (lets say in the rare chance that the Mercedes is leading) and you can’t use the DRS (or at least, not very often), won’t they still wear out the plank? For it to work, they’d need to be using DRS in most of the high speed situations, which will not be the case. I like your previous suggestion better.

  12. Could the grounding front @ high speed be due to moving from push rod to pull rod suspension?

    Push rod can easily be tailored to give near constant rate suspension or rising rate as ride height lowers.

    The following only applies to springs concentric with the dampers.
    Pull rod inherently gives falling rate as ride height lowers.
    There are a narrow range of geometric conditions where the inherent falling rate can be coaxed into constant rate or rising rate. This is available over a fairly low range of ride heights.

    If the pull rod suspensions are moving away from a rising rate at very low ride heights then grounding at EOS and other higher speeds is inevitable.

  13. Pingback: Merc W03 Rear Wing | Pace Insights Blog

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