Tech insight: What we can expect from the 2020 F1 Mercedes

On the eve of a new Formula 1 season, one team will feel the weight of expectation like no other, having already achieved an uninterrupted sequence of six double world championships.

Mercedes stands on the precipice of a regulatory clean-sweep, vying for the last ‘double’ available in this hybrid era. Scheduled to be unveiled at Silverstone on February 14, the W11 will be an evolution of its predecessor, as the team looks to iron out any imperfections and bring even more performance to bear.

Information gathered ahead of time reveals changes that may help the team to unlock latent performance from a machine that was already pretty formidable last season.

Having scrutinized its own weaknesses and closely studied the opposition’s designs, Mercedes has taken a design concept introduced by Ferrari in 2017 and refined it to suit its own package.

Mercedes AMG F1 W10, chassis

Mercedes AMG F1 W10, chassis

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The intent of this design concept 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 will join this group, 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.

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.

Mercedes AMG F1 W10, chassis

Mercedes AMG F1 W10, chassis

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

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

To maximise this further, and to take advantage of the new shapes and contours in this region, it will come as no surprise if the W11 were to 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...

Click on the arrows on the images below to scroll through them

Sidepod and regulation changes since 2011
Sidepod and regulation changes since 2011
1/4
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.

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Mercedes W08 front suspension
Mercedes W08 front suspension
2/4
The use of this sidepod solution may bring the curtain down on a solution that Mercedes has employed since 2017. The necessity to improve flow to these periscope-style sidepod inlets has meant that teams that have moved to this solution have also utilised suspension setups that sit as low as possible, reducing flow impedance. Therefore, it would come as no surprise to see Mercedes do the same, casting aside their upright extension on the front suspension (red arrow), in favor of a more conventional arrangement.

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Mercedes W10 front suspension detail
Mercedes W10 front suspension detail
3/4
The Silver Arrows also tested a mechanical heave damper arrangement in the latter phases of 2019 too, not only with an eye on this season and perhaps the aforementioned change in suspension design, but also in advance of the impending changes for 2021, where a more classically sprung solution will be required.

Photo by: motosport.com

Benetton B187/B186 chassis comparison
Benetton B187/B186 chassis comparison
4/4
Giorgio Piola reminds us that nothing in Formula 1 is really new, as teams often follow concepts created by others or revisit previous solutions based on the prevailing regulations. For example, the Benetton B187 used a T-shaped body in the rear to recess the radiators, when compared with the more conventional layout used on the B186.

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

shares
comments
Ricciardo: Netflix doc put F1 "on the map" in the US
Previous article

Ricciardo: Netflix doc put F1 "on the map" in the US

Next article

Grosjean: Speaking out key to avoiding more trouble in 2020

Grosjean: Speaking out key to avoiding more trouble in 2020
Verstappen exclusive: Why F1's champion isn't fazed by Silverstone return Prime

Verstappen exclusive: Why F1's champion isn't fazed by Silverstone return

Max Verstappen is the world’s number one racing driver… and he’s determined to keep it that way. Speaking exclusively to GP Racing's OLEG KARPOV, the Red Bull driver explains why he’s relishing the 2022 championship battle with Charles Leclerc – and why he’s not worried about returning to Silverstone, the scene of the biggest accident of his career last year

Formula 1
Jun 30, 2022
Why Red Bull’s RB17 hypercar can help its F1 team Prime

Why Red Bull’s RB17 hypercar can help its F1 team

On Tuesday, Red Bull laid out its plans to develop and build a new hypercar - the RB17 - penned by Adrian Newey. As the project itself sates Newey as a creative outlet, it also offers Red Bull's Formula 1 team a number of new and exciting avenues to pursue.

Formula 1
Jun 29, 2022
What to expect from Mercedes as F1 returns to Silverstone Prime

What to expect from Mercedes as F1 returns to Silverstone

OPINION: The British Grand Prix is a home event for Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, with their Mercedes team based just a few miles away too. But there’s another reason why the Silver Arrows squad is eager to arrive at Silverstone this weekend, which may help it fix its remaining problems with its 2022 Formula 1 challenger .

Formula 1
Jun 29, 2022
Inside AlphaTauri’s Faenza F1 factory Prime

Inside AlphaTauri’s Faenza F1 factory

AlphaTauri’s mission in F1 is to sell clothes and train young drivers rather than win the championship – but you still need a cutting-edge factory to do that. Team boss Franz Tost takes GP Racing’s Oleg Karpov on a guided tour of a facility that’s continuing to grow.

Formula 1
Jun 26, 2022
Connecting two of Ferrari's favourite F1 sons: Villeneuve and Leclerc Prime

Connecting two of Ferrari's favourite F1 sons: Villeneuve and Leclerc

Gilles Villeneuve's exploits behind the wheel of a Ferrari made him a legend to the tifosi, even 40 years after his death. The team's current Formula 1 star Charles Leclerc enjoys a similar status, and recently got behind the wheel of a very special car from the French-Canadian’s career.

Formula 1
Jun 24, 2022
How a 30cm metal wire triggered open warfare in the F1 paddock Prime

How a 30cm metal wire triggered open warfare in the F1 paddock

Porpoising has become the key talking point during the 2022 Formula 1 season, as teams battle to come to terms with it. An FIA technical directive ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix and a second stay appearing on the Mercedes cars only served to create a bigger debate and raise tensions further

Formula 1
Jun 23, 2022
Does Max Verstappen have any weaknesses left? Prime

Does Max Verstappen have any weaknesses left?

Having extended his Formula 1 points lead with victory in Canada, Max Verstappen has raised his game further following his 2021 title triumph. Even on the days where Red Bull appears to be second best to Ferrari, Verstappen is getting the most out of the car in each race. So, does he have any weaknesses that his title rivals can exploit?

Formula 1
Jun 22, 2022
How F1's future fuels can shape the automotive sector Prime

How F1's future fuels can shape the automotive sector

In 2026, Formula 1 plans to make the switch to a fully sustainable fuel, as the greater automotive world considers its own alternative propulsion methods. Biogasoline and e-fuels both have merit as 'drop-in' fuels but, equally, both have their shortcomings...

Formula 1
Jun 21, 2022