Mercedes front wing, Shanghai International Circuit, 2019

The new wing which helped Mercedes sweep the front row in China

F1 technology

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Mercedes swept the front row of the grid for the Chinese Grand Prix despite having to modify the revised front wing it had brought for the race at the track.

The team brought its updated wing to China after being stung by the superior pace of Ferrari in Bahrain. It’s one of the most noteworthy new components in the pit lane this weekend.

The wing is not a completely new design but a modular update of the design seen in the second pre-season test. Much of the wing remains identical to the original spec, but specific sections have been replaced with a newly shaped; endplate and outer wing span.

The team had to comply with the FIA’s requested changes to the front 50mm portion of the wing. This requirement was communicated in a technical directive at the beginning of the month.

As Mercedes had already planned to introduce the new wing this weekend, it had to be modified at the circuit before first practice began.

“If your interpretation of the rules is different to what the FIA’s interpretation is you need to accept the sporting authority,” acknowledged team principal Toto Wolff.

“It was a bit of a complication to modify hardware components in the field. But we have a really good group of people here that are able to do that under poor conditions.”

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Mercedes front wing, Shanghai International Circuit, 2019
Mercedes front wing, Shanghai International Circuit, 2019

The rear of the endplate is more interesting aerodynamically. Two aspects have changed, firstly the cut-out in the top rear corner has gone from being a rectangular notch to curved cut made to the entire trailing edge. With the greatest open section at the top, exposing the wing tip in the resulting opening.

Below, the footplate section has been truncated, in a similar style to that of the Haas. Then the main wing profile is revised for the outer span, where the profile curves downwards towards the endplate, rather than joining it at right angles. This effectively makes the outermost section of the wing steeper, creating higher pressure at the trailing edge.

Given the regulation changes this year, all of these changes are directed at creating more outwash and have little effect on downforce. With the cut-out shape and re-profiled wing tip, the aim is to increase the power of the wing tip vortex, spilling off the trailing edge of the wing through the new cut out. As the greater pressure difference created by the wing’s steeper angle of attack, has somewhere to escape through. This should push more airflow out around the front tyre preventing it being pulled back downstream by the rear wing and diffuser.

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Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Mercedes front wing, Shanghai International Circuit, 2019
Mercedes front wing, Shanghai International Circuit, 2019

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Craig Scarborough
Craig Scarborough is RaceFans' technical contributor....

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9 comments on “The new wing which helped Mercedes sweep the front row in China”

  1. i see at least two different front wings. As i understand the first picture is the illegal version and the two other pictures look like the revised one.
    Is that correct?

    1. sorry, the third one looks the same as the first one.. both “illegal”, seeing some of the parts from the side?

    2. Hmm… I see the top and bottom photos have the same end plate with the curved trailing edge. The end plate in the middle photo has the rectangular notch, which as described is the earlier iteration replaced by the curved.

  2. If you look closely at the first photo, it appears there is a mismatch in paint/texture on the leading edge of the end plate. Is that evidence of where the in-the-field modification was made?

    1. You are correct. That distinction is where the “softer” carbon begins.

    2. Nope, that a different kind of carbon fiber (fia specced) that disintegrates easier thus make it a bit harder to get a puncture if your hit by the front wing. The greyer part is Mercedes own spec of carbon fiber which is stiffer and harder.

  3. Scarbs is off the mark here, the front part of the endplate hasn’t been changed but the top flap has. Mercedes took a small piece of it off and covered the rest with a small piece glued onto the endplate.

  4. With the new regs being designed to limit outwash and the people designing them knowing that the teams would do as much as they could to gain as much of it back are you surprised that they allowed a full width front wing @scarbs? Would narrowing the front wing not have made outwash more difficult to achieve?

    Creating more outwash sounds like a double whammy in that it will make a team’s aero work better and make their car harder to follow.

    Thanks again Craig, all these developments are really interesting.

  5. Thanks for adding the photo of the previous end-plate – appreciated. And made it clearer for me… ;-)

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