Mercedes’ radical new airbox and more pictures from Thursday in Spain

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Mercedes' new split air intake
Mercedes' new split air intake

Mercedes’ revised W01 includes a radical new airbox which sees the conventional single intake replaced with two separate holes on either side of the car.

See below for more pictures of the design along with Virgin’s new engine cover and more pictures from pre-race preparation at the Circuit de Catalunya.

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2010 Spanish Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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81 comments on “Mercedes’ radical new airbox and more pictures from Thursday in Spain”

  1. Mercedes airbox – 3 words….

    WHAT THE F***!?!?!?!?

    1. agreed. I hope this is NOT the norm of what will come. It’s FUGLY.

      On another note in the Lotus video the other day and on the above picture their vertical attachments for the front wing look sooo long compared to most other wings. Looks to be twice as long as the STR wing attachment uprights.

      1. yes, i noticed that as well in the video shown on the JA on F1 site. Nice video by the way.
        The Mercedes airbox looks really s… , lets hope their not onto something starting a new trend!

        1. If it works nobody is going to care how ugly it is! Yes it´s ugly, but my concern is that it works. And based on absolutely nothing, I can´t believe something that ugly can work…

          1. I am starting to think F1 gave up on cars looking good about two years ago…wide at the front skinny at the back and now with flared nostrils, and they are not even keen to make the paint jobs look good, well at least the virgins are trying to look pretty…

      2. KeldenButton
        7th May 2010, 2:41

        Lotus must really really want air away from their tyres

        1. They are considering sticking some engine covers on the nose as flaps…

      3. It may not become the norm, but I’m all for this sort of technical innovation.

    2. That’s exactly what I thought ***.

    3. MouseNightshirt
      7th May 2010, 3:49

      Personally, I quite like it.

      1. I’ve heard people complain about shark fins, but this is way worse!

  2. Sush Meerkat
    6th May 2010, 17:26

    Does that airbox create less drag or something?

    1. looks like it allows more air over the rear wing

      1. My first thought exactly!

  3. Marc Connell
    6th May 2010, 17:28

    Last picture isnt torro rosso garage, its lotus :P

  4. polishboy808
    6th May 2010, 17:29

    @Sush Meerkaat No it doesnt, its for cooling. I had an Idea like this but I never made a drawing of it because when I read the rules I took it as this is illegal. Its a little bit strange to see a car with triple intakes like that. Revolutionary is definetly the best word to describe it.

    1. polishboy808
      6th May 2010, 17:29

      Sorry, Double intakes, not tripple.

    2. Not revolutionary at all. There were plenty of inlets like those in the 70s.

      1. polishboy808
        6th May 2010, 18:35

        Yes but we are talkin bout the 2000’s now, sure back 30 years ago that may have been normal, however now…..

  5. anyone see the sauber f-duct? looks exactly like mclaren’s. how did they get around the chassis rules!?

      1. I can only assume that under the cover the intake requires a more strangled route than is necessary to reach the driver interaction point.

    1. Untitled258
      6th May 2010, 18:18

      I’ve had a theory that De La Rosa knew about it, so when he moved to sauber he let them know and they put the whole in the chassis in preparation for them eventually developing, and fitting the divise.

      I think its no coincidence that they where the first(well 2nd) team to be testing it.

      1. Untitled258
        6th May 2010, 18:33

        i mean hole, no whole, why on earth would i spell it like that?

      2. It did cross my mind as well.
        McLaren probably don’t mind, as Sauber is far from threatening them.

  6. polishboy808
    6th May 2010, 17:42

    Sorry for triple posting but I just now realised some stuff that I missed before. That new Mercedes front wing is complex! The Lotus wing looks different too, very different. The fin on the Force India looks very different, it seems to cut in rectangularly, I cant see close up but from far away it looks the most cut out of them all. But the mercedes looks ridiculous without a fin and that intake! Any pictures of Renault? Ive realised they are the only ones not pictured except HRT and Red Bull :(

    1. i hate the fins! the cars looks way better without them.

    2. If these comments are just based on the pictures above then you should look at pictures from the earlier races more carefully. Mercedes wing pictured is unchanged as are all 4 lotus wings pictured. There are pictures of the new wing and its totally different to the ones pictured. More like the Toyota tf109

  7. Apparently ferarri have removed the barcode adverts. They can’t say it wasn’t malboro when in the whole 2007 season the chopped and changed between malboro sponsors and barcodes depending on the country they were racing in

  8. What if the Mercedes car turns over on soft ground. This extremely slim roll over bar would dig into the ground offering very little protection for the drivers head.

  9. do they even do this at silverstone on a thursday? like allow fans to get autographs from drivers or do silverstone destroy all the fun with seperating eveyone in fear of a bomb attack or something?

    Sorry if it sounds out of place I’m just wondering since I’m going to silverstone this year again, I’ve never been down on a thursday for a f1 event before.

    1. Thursday is is most relaxed day in the pit lane. Drivers are there and can’t drive and teams do no more than prepare for the weekend

      1. You still need the all important pass to get on the right side of the track.

        1. In previous years at French and Spanish GPs I got automatic entry to pit lane on Thursday just by having a three day ticket, no special pass required.

        2. bah, you would of thought £260 for a 3 day gold pit straight, would be enough to get at least a few autographs from drivers. Sooner or later only celebs will be able to get autographs if it gets anymore dictated by silverstone screwing over fans.

          Thx for the insight rampante.

  10. that Mercedes intake is crazy.. i dont know if i like it though. have to wait and see it out on the track before i decide..

  11. Untitled258
    6th May 2010, 18:22

    I love the airbox on the Mercedes, i think it looks brilliant.

    But then again, i seem to be the only person who likes sharkfins.

    Maybe i just like the designs which look a bit, radical? i cant think of an appropriate word.

    1. polishboy808
      6th May 2010, 18:37

      Your not the only one who likes the fins. They look cool, however they dont serve a HUGE purpose.

      1. Shark fins do serve a purpose or everyone wouldn’t have them. They cut yaw to the rear wing an keep air flow linear during cornering, increasing the efficiency of the rear wing. I’ve always thought the 09 onwards shark fins looked pretty damn good.

        Anyway, this new Mercedes airbox looks fantasic! Sleeks the car out, makes the whole thing lower, all you changed afeared bods arn’t thinking, It looks brilliant and I hope it catches on, we could get some damn radical interpretations next year.

        Haven’t really noticed the difference on McLarens fornt wing though, could anyone explain it?

        1. Scribe,

          I thought looking at the design the opposite… Im sure you know more about the matter but I figured the air intake scoops on the side where disrupting the straight-on air flow to the rear wing. Similar to the Ferrari idea where when the car is going straight forward it disrupts the air flow to the wing and when it is in the twisties the air comes from different angles so the air to the Rear wing is not disrupted.

          Speaking of which, wasnt Ferrari to run their full version of the F-duct this weekend? All the hype about the Malboro logo and I noticed in the pictures the air intakes on their engine cover are not there.

        2. Wow, that sounds like quite a scoop if it works out for them. They must have played with the thought from the onset.

          I did think the previous design was somewhat strange, but this!

          At first i did not like it, but the first time i saw a raised nose cone it did not get me as beautifull as well. So keep up the innovative thoughts.

    2. As well as the yaw stuff, it might be an issue to do with minimum surface area viewable from the side, like the rear wing end plates have

  12. The Genuine Jim
    6th May 2010, 18:24

    These new front wings are looking incredibly beefy. The end-plates are very substantial on all of them.

  13. Getting ready for the TURBO days maybe :) cos they’re all gonnea look like that then. :(

  14. the-muffin-man
    6th May 2010, 18:39

    Surely that lack of any substance around the merc ‘roll-hoop’ will mean it will just cut into the ground if the car flips -meaning its pretty much useless. Not sure I’d like to be sat underneath it!

    1. Only if the driver is 3 meters tall. When have you ever seen a drivers head above the air intake? The safety cell and roll bars are regulated by the FIA not the teams

      1. the-muffin-man
        6th May 2010, 21:28

        [i]When have you ever seen a drivers head above the air intake? [/i]

        I didn’t they they did – but if that ‘hoop’ cuts into the ground by 4-5″ then the drivers helmet will almost certain make contact with the ground.

        1. it’d have to land on mud for that to happen!

  15. I’m surprised that Mercedes could make such a change without re-homologating that chassis, specifically, for the roll-structure force test. It would be hard to keep this secret if they did. Anyway, I’m very skeptical that structure could handle a powerful shearing force, rather than just a vertical force, such as when a car is sliding on its lid and hits a curb, or if another car rides up over it from the side. It must be made of unobtanium.

    1. I dont think the actual crash structure has changed only the intakes.

      1. This was mentioned when Mercedes first showed up with the radical central poll air box, It couldn’t be copied because of homogerlation.

        I wonder what the FIA will make of it, it’s quite a radical change, that rear wing of theres is going to be receiving the cleanest air in the paddock.

    2. Good point. I guess now we see the logic of their previous weird, fat airbox. How will this affect engine performance, though? I know there is no “ram-air” benefit and that the air purposefully is slowed in the airbox but this must affect the dynamic pressures in the intake plumbing.

      Has anyone noticed that, in only the second season with the current radical aerodynamic limitations, we have seen the most radical, innovative aero developments in recent memory. This is great stuff. I think this proves that it is nearly impossible to constrain aero development and related performance gains by constraining the apppearance of certain pieces of carbon fiber in certain places.

    3. why not the main structure really haven’t changed. Isn’t it just the monoqueue that is homologated anyways? This way engine covers and wings can still be changed otherwise all work on ducts etc can’t be changed or am I missing something?

    4. It was already stated at the introduction of this car that separating the roll-structure from the airbox allowed them to change it around later.

      Although the article claims a new crash test would be enough, but obviously since the part is homologated, no changes would be allowed at all.

  16. Thanks for the pics, Keith. First site that shows the “complete” Mercedes car ;)!

  17. My initial reaction is that I think the traditional airbox looks better but I will have to wait to see what the Mercedes looks like in action on track.

  18. Oh my dear Lord!

    That air intake is horrible.

    Then again if it works, they won’t care.

    Form after function, is that how it goes??

  19. I can remember someone commenting on the Ferrari Marlboro story earlier in the week about the lack of gambling companies sponsering F1 teams… Looks like Beardy Branson is reading this! =P

  20. The new airbox looks alright to me – less of an eyesore than those shark fins. Have Mercedes said what the purpose of it is?

  21. Catalina ;)
    6th May 2010, 20:40

    hope it works for Mercedes ;)


    Well I guess this picture answers my question. seems like they are only running the opening on one side.

  23. I hope for the sake of Michael’s neck that the crash structure on the new Mercedes air intake is as robust as the traditional design.

  24. So Ferrari have removed the barcode? ***. What was Montezemolo on about then… He got up on his high horse and then decided not to ride?

  25. I have to say I’m surprised the Mercedes looks hardly changed.

    Sure, the airbox intake is moved back, but other than that it’s pretty much the same as it was when the car was introduced:

  26. That McLaren front wing is a piece of art. The Ferrari front wing looks nice too. More minimalistic.

    BTW Why didn’t you bring a real camera Keith? Although I also have to admit these pictures look extremely good for a camera phone.

    1. I did, but the camera didn’t work. Infuriatingly, now that I’ve tried it again it’s working fine. Fortunately I had my phone with me as a back-up.

      1. Ha, ha, that’s Murphy’s law for ya :)

  27. It looks like they planned this for a while I could never figure out exactly why the airbox was split in the first place. Now I know why. Excuse my amauterish description but it almost looks like they removed part of the airbox there. I suppose this could be due to good temperature readings so far in the season from the engine that allows a bit more sacrifice to be made in terms of cooling it for more aero efficiency in return or Mercedes using their risky in terms of reliability wild card to put themselves further ahead at this point in the season.

    It amuses me how different the ferrari one looks now in comparisson.

  28. They can use a nuclear engine and still won’t win the race. I sense Alonso will be very strong here, but he will need at least 3rd place in Q to win.

    1. Alonso may be strong but the Ferrari engine is the biggest concern, I still believe that Red Bull won’t disappoint us this weekend.

  29. Still not sure how ill the new modification will help Mercedes to get more grip. But as some people have pointed out that it may help to allow more air through the rear wing which will increase more rear end grip the thing that was missing so far from Mercedes.& when Ross is working be sure that that thing is not there only for the show.

  30. The Mercedes airbox(es) will soon look like this:

    The 1989 roll hoops put current concerns into perspective.

  31. MouseNightshirt
    7th May 2010, 3:50

    Has anyone noticed the front wing cameras on the Mercedes are in a very interesting place?

  32. The Air box looks all right, not nearly as bad as the Billboards.

    The new style end plates are in the shape of wing sections, meaning they are creating force in a horizontal direction.

  33. The Mercedes airbox makes me wonder if Schumi and Rosberg will have different shaped helmets to help divert the airflow.

  34. lotus new revised front wing

  35. I like it, and if it works, it will be a radical departure of what we normally see, and as usual Brawn’s guys re-writing the rules in terms of how F1 cars are evolving in terms of looks, and function of course…

    on the technical side i think it will work, if the 2 ducts can feed enough air to the engine, and they’ve got their sidepods feeding enough air for cooling, then why compromise with drag… that way you get less drag.. .NO?

  36. The front wings of all teams are getting ever so complicated

  37. Mercedes new airbox looks sensational and innovative but will it do the business… I will be eager to see. I’m also intrigued to see that Mercedes don’t appear to be going down the F-duct route…

  38. What is that “Make Roads Safe” in small letters on the leading edge of McLaren’s front wing for?

    It should say, “If you can read this, you are about to die in 0.1 seconds”.

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