Mercedes: Switching front wing concepts would take months

Mercedes says changing its front wing concept to a Ferrari-style version is a project that would take months to complete, but it accepts it must be "open-minded" to work out if its rival's idea is better.

Mercedes: Switching front wing concepts would take months

The new 2019 Formula 1 aero regulations have thrown up a fascinating divergence of approaches about how best to manage airflow at the front of the car.

While teams like Mercedes and Red Bull have opted for more traditional front wing designs, Ferrari and Alfa Romeo have done something totally different – with the outer edges of the front wing sloping downwards towards the endplate to help produce outwash.

Ferrari's strong start to pre-season testing last week, allied to Mercedes' low-key beginning, has prompted questions about whether or not the front wing designs are playing a part in their performance.

Read Also:

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said his team doing its own thing had served it well over recent years, but reckoned that it should not ignore the possibility that there could be better ideas out there.

"You need to be open minded," he said at an event for Mercedes' title sponsor Petronas. "We have always had a different design philosophy to many of the other teams.

"We have gone longer than the other teams. We have never had rake in the car compared to some of the other teams. It is not because we believed our concept was superior in every angle, but we believe that the whole car power unit package was the best for us that way.

"Having said that, with new regulatory change, you need to be open minded about what the others have done. And if something functions better, every team at the moment will look at what the others have put on the car and try it themselves."

Pushed on if the team would make a switch, Wolff said: "These are things you don't do from one day to another. If you were to think to change the aerodynamic concept of the car, it is not a matter of days or weeks. It is a matter of months."

Wolff's timeline of it taking several months to switch front wing concepts is in line with what Renault technical director Nick Chester predicts it would take.

"If you decided you were on the wrong tack and you needed to go to a very different front wing concept, it wouldn't be easy," Chester said, when asked by Motorsport.com about how challenging it would be to totally switch concepts.

"You would put it on and find that it was a long way down to start with. Then, you would have to develop with it for a couple of months to get it working, so it would not be easy switching – and definitely not from one end of the scale to the other."

Chester said his team was still evaluating the different concepts of wings, and suggested that over the course of the season there could be some convergence between outfits on the best design.

"We are obviously always interested in what other people are doing, so we are looking at the other options out there," he said.

"There are a wide variety between trying to get as much outboard loading as you can and trying to use the outwash to push the wheel wake out, to try to unload that and not stress the flap and the endplate structures too much.

"So there is a bit of a balance to be struck and over the season we will see how everyone develops, and I expect there could be a tendency to go one way. But on the other hand there are cars performing quite well out there with different solutions."

From the editor, also read:

Force India technical director Andy Green said it was not impossible that the different approaches remained, as teams juggled how to balance getting downforce from the front wing over the benefits of outwash.

"Teams like Mercedes have done their own philosophy for quite a long time," he said. "They've stood out as being different and they've won five championships. So there's always room for another philosophy, and they've proved that over the years.

"We may end up with several, one or two different philosophies around the front wing and both of them could be equally as competitive. We'll have to wait and see."

Additional reporting by Marco Congiu

shares
comments
Hamilton tried new methods to bulk up for 2019

Previous article

Hamilton tried new methods to bulk up for 2019

Next article

Bottas hasn't "achieved anything" in F1

Bottas hasn't "achieved anything" in F1
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Teams Mercedes
Author Jonathan Noble
How F1's street track return can offer Verstappen redemption Prime

How F1's street track return can offer Verstappen redemption

Red Bull has failed to capitalise on having the best car in the opening rounds. BEN EDWARDS thinks change is around the corner.

The AlphaTauri improvements that mean Gasly’s form is no fluke Prime

The AlphaTauri improvements that mean Gasly’s form is no fluke

Pierre Gasly has driven superbly since demotion from Red Bull in 2019, but the team formerly known as Toro Rosso has come on strong too – building a car that can often challenge Ferrari and McLaren. Here Gasly reveals to ALEX KALINAUCKAS how AlphaTauri has given him the tools needed to rebuild his reputation

Formula 1
May 17, 2021
Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish” Prime

Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish”

We’ve seen five distinct versions of Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes as he’s tried to fulfil his own ambitions while being a consummate team player – two difficult, competing missions which have been challenging to reconcile. Speaking exclusively to Stuart Codling, Bottas explains his highs and lows… and why he still believes he can be world champion.

Formula 1
May 15, 2021
How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean? Prime

How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean?

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been evenly matched so far in the 2021 Formula 1 title race. Neither has been afraid to get aggressive against each other on track, teeing up an enthralling contest as the year unwinds. But how long will their battle remain clean? Jonathan Noble ponders that exact point

Formula 1
May 13, 2021
How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner Prime

How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner

The Brabham BT46B raced once, won once, then vanished – or did it? STUART CODLING reveals the story of the car which was never actually banned…

Formula 1
May 11, 2021
The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle Prime

The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle

Formula 1’s visits to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over recent years have been met with familiar criticisms despite tweaks here and there to the track to improve racing. With the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix largely going the same way, proper solutions need to be followed to achieve F1’s wider targets

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Often described as Formula 1's laboratory, the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona gave the clearest demonstration yet of the pecking order in 2021. And it's the key discrepancies from that order which illuminate who is excelling, and who needs to hit the reset button.

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain Prime

How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain

An aggressive first corner move from Max Verstappen appeared to have set the Red Bull driver on course for victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. But canny strategy from Mercedes - combined with the absence of Red Bull's number two from the lead group - allowed Lewis Hamilton to pull off a demoralising reversal

Formula 1
May 10, 2021