Mercedes W07: Technical analysis

2016 F1 season

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Mercedes gave us several fleeting glimpses of the new W07 over the past two days which indicated their new car was very closely related to its predecessor.

However now the car can finally be seen in detail we can see the world champions have made a few bold choices over the winter in a bid to continue their dominant streak.

Have they done enough to fend off Ferrari’s ambitious SF16-H? Let’s take a closer look at the new W07.

Front wing and nose

Mercedes W07

The W07 in its current guise has the same set-up as last year in this area, featuring a very short, slim nose and the front wing that was used throughout the majority of 2015. While this may seem unsurprising for a launch car, Mercedes executive technical director Paddy Lowe has suggested that the car seen in testing will be close to Melbourne specification.

Moving further up the nose and towards the front suspension area, Mercedes have provided no further clues as to what its plans are involving the S-duct – an ‘s’ shaped pipe that transfers airflow from the bottom of the car at the front of the monocoque to the top of the chassis.

During the Brazilian Grand Prix practice sessions the W06 ran with what appeared to be a dummy panel replicating the shape of the duct’s outlet, although there were also rumours that it was merely a disguise for a new front suspension arrangement.

However the triangular shape of the vanity panel’s upper portion which covers the internals is very reminiscent of the one seen in Brazil. Cleaning up airflow in this region will still be a top priority for most teams, so we could see some development here yet.

The under-chassis turning vanes also remain the same as 2015 for now; a four element design joining to a curved footplate appears to be the class-leading solution here.

Unlike the new Ferrari there is no indication Mercedes will incorporate a blown front axle into the W07. This involves diverting airflow that passes into the brake ducts through a hollow axle and out of the wheel nut perpendicularly to normal flow. This improves how the air is pushed outwards around the front tyre before it is sent rearward, however Mercedes has never taken up this design in previous years.

New roll hoop

Mercedes W07

During the off-season we heard the Mercedes chiefs speak of vast changes in some areas to stay ahead of the competition. Whilst Lowe has described their new challenger as “optimisation absolutely everywhere” the roll hoop region, from and outsiders perspective, appears to be a clean break from the past two years.

The airbox is now one very large, angled inlet that appears to be divided into four individual inlets – the main central inlet, two smaller flanking apertures and a large arcing orifice above. The two angled struts that are visible are simply guide vanes so that the airflow is channeled sufficiently down one of these paths.

Last year Toro Rosso had a very large airbox which accommodated the turbo’s compressor inlet and an aperture for a larger radiator. Mercedes have gone down a similar route, the benefit being that a radiator can be packed behind the chassis’s rear bulkhead to free up space in the sidepods, allowing for tighter packaging.

The central inlet is the turbo’s compressor intake, with the two straddling ones possibly feeding an ERS cooler which would previously have sat in the sidepod. The arcing inlet is possibly for the gearbox oil radiator at the back of the car, although it seems quite large which suggests there could be another radiator sat in line with it. The give-away is that there are two nostrils in the engine cover to reject hot air from this region, as has been the case with Mercedes’ cars since 2014.

This leaves the question of where their trick water-jacketed intercooler is packaged as this is already a cramped area to begin with. It might not be until later in the season that we get a clear picture of the new layout.

Sidepods and bodywork

Mercedes W07

The cockpit features new rear view mirrors and additional vanes which are very much an evolution over last year. The vertical vanes that sit just behind the mirrors are much higher, however, and appear to use the airflow aft of the mirror to control how it flows down the top of the sidepod. In addition the horizontal flow-conditioning vane which bridges over the sidepod’s leading edge has been raised and reshaped to further aid the down-wash of air over the car’s bodywork.

The new roll hoop design also opens up a bit of freedom around the sidepod design. The main inlets are now significantly smaller than their predecessor’s, creating a deeper undercut near the bargeboard area which will improve the quality of airflow heading towards the rear diffuser.

It is clear that Mercedes have taken some design cues from Ferrari, as the top of the sidepods are heavily sculpted in a similar fashion to those seen on the SF15-T late last year. The leading edge of the pod is sunken dramatically which, combined with the narrower inlets, has resulted in the need to make a blister in the bodywork to clear the side impact structure.

The sunken section then merges with the main body of the sidepods further behind, before the bodywork has to again bulge outwards as it forms the rear section of the car. Overall the bodywork is much sleeker, opening up more opportunities to exploit airflow at the rear end.

Rear end

Mercedes W07

Inevitably Mercedes has shown us little of the W07’s rear end but there are still some interesting features to dissect. While the rear wing is one which appeared during 2015 it is worth noting that Mercedes have opted to initially run with their medium-drag upper flap shape, i.e. the outer sections turn downwards as they meet the endplate. Perhaps they have found a decent chunk of performance from the diffuser to not warrant a traditional flap shape, although this can change at any point.

Like all of the teams we have seen so far – and as seen in their fire-up video earlier this week – Mercedes have opted to place two wastgate pipes eitherside of the main exhaust outlet. But uunlike Williams and Ferrari they have managed to squeeze the pipes close enough so that the rear wing pylon can still pass around the trio and attach to the gearbox case beneath. This is very neat packaging as the wastegate pipes do not protrude outward and therefore do not interrupt airflow passing along near the centreline of the car.

Immediately behind is a new monkey seat winglet which stands tall above the rear crash structure. This is simply an evolution of the simple winglet they used in 2015, although the aerofoil section itself is now divided into two elements.

Mercedes have also adopted extra slots in the floor ahead of the rear tyre to alleviate tyre squirt, as discussed in the SF16-H technical analysis. There are now four L-shaped slots set in line with each other to build up a strong vortex – this goes against the grain of having many smaller slots that both Ferrari and McLaren are utilising. The slots are also accompanied by a pair of twisted fences to intensify their effect.

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10 comments on “Mercedes W07: Technical analysis”

  1. An evolution of an evolution of a revolutionary car in 2014. Thing is, the 2015 was described as a evolution and it’s performance advantage against the second fastest at the end of 2015 was as great as it was at the end of 2014. Ferrari has to be bold and take risks in it’s design because although they caught up and even passed some of the best of the rest in 2015 they didn’t catch up Mercedes, and that was with the massive gains the found by correcting the issues with the PU from 2014. Now it’s largely down to chassis and aero gains to compete with Mercedes, with improvements in the PU as well. The thing is, I dont think we have seen just what Mercedes can deliver when under pressure from behind, remembering that when Lewis & Nico are battling on track the have rules for performance modes etc something they wouldn’t generally have when a Ferrari is behind them. I suspect that Ferrari will eat into Mercedes advantage somewhat, they will win a few races and apply some pressure but for the championship, I dont think Ferrari are there yet. Having said that, the media is all caught up in the Ferrari & Mercedes fight storyline, but will we be surprised with another team making a step in performance like Ferrari did last year? Will Ferrari be applying pressure to Mercedes or receiving pressure from another, Mclaren perhaps? Who knows. We haven’t got long to wait until we find out though.

  2. love these new technical analysis parts!

    1. Thanks, Jorne!

      1. Me too! This is great stuff that I would have to find elsewhere!

        Please do the other cars as well!

  3. Loving the technical analysis, but this one doesn’t leave with many hopes of this year not being another Mercedes faceroll. I wish they had been dumb and gone for a radical design, cause that would be their worst chance at having a second over the competition again :P

    1. Don’t count out Ferrari, the SF16-H looks good! Read about it here –

      1. And like they say, “looks can be deceiving”. For all its pretty looks, it can turn out out to be a dog of a car, just its predecessors from 09 to 15.

  4. While Ferrari is cautiously optimistic about their chances and there is hope on Ferrari about their ability to Win the WDC , history says otherwise. Three year winning streaks by dominant cars are normal

    2014 Mercedes = (1988 McHonda, 2002 Ferrari, 2011 RBR )
    2015 Mercedes = (1989 McHonda, 2003 Ferrari, 2012 RBR )
    2016 Mercedes = (1990 McHonda, 2004 Ferrari, 2013 RBR )

    So I will not hold my breath on Ferrari as yet until the Winter testing is over and the circus reaches Barcelona .

    Having said that there has been 2 year dominance too

    92,93 – Williams Renault
    94,95 – Benetton Renault
    96,97 – Williams Renault
    98,99 – Mclaren Mercedes
    05,06 – Renault

    So for Ferrari Fans this can be another way of looking at history !!!

    1. @tmax, those streaks of around 3 years tended to come in periods where the regulations were fairly static, such that the team which had established an early lead tended to then hold onto that advantage as time went on.

      To a certain extent, though, I would argue that at least some of your examples of 2 years of back to back success aren’t necessarily that dominant. I would certainly dispute the claim that Renault were the dominant team in 2005 – the general consensus was that McLaren’s MP4/20 was the faster car (and McLaren finished the season with more victories to their name than Renault did), but the R25 was more reliable and had a wider operating window than the MP4/20 did.

  5. So merc steels some air from the rear wing with the massive roll hoop intake but gives some air back to the diffusers via massive undercuts on the side pods.

    Are we going to see a trend of raising the center of gravity by placing cooling equipment high above the motor to activate the floor?

    Substantial downforce gains for a small COG trade off? Also a bit less drag on the rear wing?

    Very interesting stuff.

    Keith as you mentioned Red Bull tried this out through thier sister team last year, wouldn’t be surprised to see RB follow this year.

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