What's behind Mercedes' extreme new sidepods

Mercedes may be coming off the back of another F1 title double, but that has not stopped it taking a design concept originally introduced by Ferrari in 2017 and then taking it a step further.

What's behind Mercedes' extreme new sidepods

A quick comparison glance between the German car manufacturer's 2019 design and the new W11 shows a very aggressive sidepod solution, with the inlets much smaller than before.

The intent of this design is to improve flow quality into the radiator inlet and reduce the negative impact that the front tyre wake has on flow into and around the entire sidepod structure.

For 2020, Mercedes has joined the group of teams going down this route: lowering and bringing the uppermost side impact protection spars forward to improve power unit performance and reliability, while reducing drag and refining the aerodynamic output of the car.

The sidepod undercut and general shaping is very extreme due to their adoption of this lower impact structure and letterbox style inlet solution.

 

Mercedes is keen to edge out rivals when it comes to power unit performance once more in 2020, having given up ground to them last season.

Improving cooling efficiency will therefore be high on the agenda, in order that it can run in higher power modes for longer, as it clearly was unable to exploit the power unit upgrades introduced last season. It will expect further power gains in 2020 that must be unlocked to assure its continued success.

The W10 (pictured below) was already pretty extreme around the midriff, with a distinctive shape to the chassis that pulled everything as close to the body as possible.

Mercedes AMG F1 W10, chassis

Mercedes AMG F1 W10, chassis

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

To maximise this further, and to take advantage of the new shapes and contours in this region, the W11 may also feature a revised fuel tank layout too, allowing even more scope for the revised radiator and sidepod packaging, while also improving weight distribution.

How we got to this point...

The FIA introduced a common side-impact protection spar (SIPS) design to reduce costs and better manage side-impact loads in 2014. This curtailed the more exotic designs we'd seen in recent years, with limited scope in the regulations restricting the design options available.

However, the changes made in 2017 reopened closed wounds and once again allowed designers to rethink the placement of these SIPS and the bodywork that surrounded them.

Ferrari was the first to take advantage, with the SF70H, but others swiftly followed suit, with three other teams sporting a very similar solution in 2018 and more taking advantage last season.

shares
comments
New Alfa Romeo F1 car breaks cover at Fiorano

Previous article

New Alfa Romeo F1 car breaks cover at Fiorano

Next article

Mercedes opts against 'entire new car' approach for first race

Mercedes opts against 'entire new car' approach for first race
Load comments
Why the end is nigh for F1’s most dependable design tool Prime

Why the end is nigh for F1’s most dependable design tool

Wind tunnel work forms the bedrock of aerodynamic development in Formula 1. But as Pat Symonds explains, advances in virtual research are signalling the end of these expensive and complicated relics.

Formula 1
Jun 13, 2021
Why Mosley’s legacy amounts to far more than tabloid rumour Prime

Why Mosley’s legacy amounts to far more than tabloid rumour

The newspapers, naturally, lingered over Max Mosley’s tainted family history and niche sexual practices. But this is to trivialise the legacy of a big beast of motor racing politics. Stuart Codling weighs the life of a man whose work for safety on both road and track has saved hundreds of thousands of lives, but whose penchant for cruelty remains problematic and polarising.

Formula 1
Jun 12, 2021
Why pragmatic Perez isn't fazed by no-nonsense Red Bull F1 culture Prime

Why pragmatic Perez isn't fazed by no-nonsense Red Bull F1 culture

Sergio Perez has spent most of his career labouring in Formula 1’s midfield, wondering whether he’d ever get another shot at the big time. Red Bull has handed him that chance and, although life at the top is tough, the Baku winner is doing all the right things to get on terms with Max Verstappen, says BEN ANDERSON

Formula 1
Jun 11, 2021
What the data tells us about the F1 2021 title fight Prime

What the data tells us about the F1 2021 title fight

Formula 1 has been tracking car performance using timing loops mounted every 200m around each circuit – to the extent that it was able to anticipate Ferrari’s 'surprise’ pole in Monaco. PAT SYMONDS explains what this means for this season and beyond

Formula 1
Jun 10, 2021
The weighty issue F1 needs to find a balance with Prime

The weighty issue F1 needs to find a balance with

OPINION: After consecutive street races with contrasting highlights, one theme stood out which has become a prevalent issue with modern Formula 1 cars. But is there a way to solve it or, at least, reach a happy middle ground to help all parties?

Formula 1
Jun 10, 2021
The changes behind a 'feel-good' F1 result in Baku Prime

The changes behind a 'feel-good' F1 result in Baku

OPINION: The Azerbaijan Grand Prix had elements that make Formula 1 really exciting – unpredictability and shock results. This resulted in heartbreak for several of the championship’s regular contenders and joy for others who rarely reach the ultimate limelight. And one of those on the Baku podium is riding a wave of form he’s keen to continue

Formula 1
Jun 9, 2021
The human cost to replacing Formula 1's cancelled rounds Prime

The human cost to replacing Formula 1's cancelled rounds

OPINION: With the global pandemic still lingering, Singapore's grand prix has been cancelled for 2021, with more looking likely to follow. Although Formula 1 has TV deals and profits to chase, retaining a 23-race calendar could be most harmful to those who sacrifice the most for the championship.

Formula 1
Jun 8, 2021
Azerbaijan Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

Azerbaijan Grand Prix Driver Ratings

An eventful weekend in Baku full of incident and drama lent the race result an unusual feel, as three drivers scored their first podiums of the year. But it wasn't the eventual race winner who scored top marks in our driver ratings

Formula 1
Jun 7, 2021