New Mercedes front wing, Circuit of the Americas, 2022

FIA bans unraced Mercedes front wing design

2023 F1 season

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A front wing design which Mercedes produced during 2022 but did not race has been banned by the FIA.

Mercedes debuted a new front wing design as part of a package of upgrades at the United States Grand Prix. However it did not race the new wing in its original form due to concerns it could be subject to a protest from rival teams.

The team described its wing as having a “reduced camber front wing tip and additional slot gap separators.” However while the 2022 rules permitted slot gap separators to be added for “primarily mechanical, structural or measurement reasons,” those on the Mercedes wing appeared to offer an aerodynamic benefit.

Mercedes decided against risking a protest over the wing and removed the slot gap separators before the new wing was run for the first time at the Mexican Grand Prix.

Revised technical regulations for the 2023 season published by the FIA have altered the definition of slot gap separators. While up to eight separator brackets are still permitted on each side of the car, the rules now state they must “provide a structural connection between consecutive [front wing] profiles.”

During the United States Grand Prix weekend Mercedes technical director Mike Elliott said the team had consulted the FIA on the design of the front wing before introducing it.

“We go through a CAD [computed aided design] review process with the FIA before we come to the circuit, that happens all the time,” he explained. “So it was something that was seen there and then they came back and said, ‘we’re not so sure about this’.”

Revised Mercedes front wing, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2022
Mercedes’ front wing after its slot gap separators were removed

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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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8 comments on “FIA bans unraced Mercedes front wing design”

  1. so 8 separators are permitted. You then place 12 separators and think its allowed?
    How is this possible?

    1. @seth-space Reading the article, it’s apparent that

      2022 rules permitted slot gap separators to be added for “primarily mechanical, structural or measurement reasons,”

      Which appears to be a typical sort of loophole the teams exploit, as there can be ‘secondary’ reasons. For example the infamous Brabham BT46B “Fan car” where the fan was supposedly ‘primarily’ for engine cooling, and ‘secondarily’ happened to increase downforce by a LOT :). The car was protested, and was eventually withdrawn by the team, but it was not banned by the FIA at the time. Niki Lauda had some interesting things to say about it at the time.
      This time they have banned it, that’s why the team asked them rather than risk getting excluded. Normal F1 stuff really.

  2. Mercedes engineers were like a cat pushing a glass of water the edge of the table while looking at the FIA, and the FIA said NO ! And then they stopped =^^=

  3. I took it that the “slot gap separators” are both required to maintain the element gaps and permitted for maintaining the “structural” aspect of the wing. Sounds straight forward.
    The tweak they applied was to use the separators as an aero component for out-wash. It was pretty obvious what the designers wanted to achieve and how they were doing it.
    What makes no sense is that Mercedes built it and showed it to one and all, likely knowing it would be protested and tossed out. Why.? There must be a reason.
    Possibly they were trying to prevent others from doing the same thing by another means. Curious that Mercedes only brought one wing to test. They should have painted it red with fish scale on it.

    1. Biker, I remember hearing one of the radio pundits on the day they took that wing along saying exactly that, that it wasn;t that MErcedes wanted to use the wing, but more a case of making sure it could be presented to the stewards so that the stwards gould give a definitive ruling that it was not allowed. I think that until a part is presented to scrutineers, the FIA will not make a ruling on legality.

      1. +1

        As a known Mercedes fan, I’d agree. What no one has mentioned is whether Merc actually did full aero testing on it.
        It looks like it should work nicely to introduce outwash, but would it really be a major feature, or would it require lots of additional development (or a Newey) to produce a killer version?

        re. stopping others – multiple suggestions from RBR in 2019 regarding engine related modifications which were basically fishing for the dodgy features on the Ferrari PU…

  4. Mercedes literally put the wing out on display in front of their garage for everyone to see on purpose. They had no intention of running that wing, it was entirely about closing down a loophole for the future. By displaying the wing it cut out the potential for a competitor to use that grey area in the regulations to gain an advantage and perhaps do what some teams did this year with the flexible floor where they get to cheat for several races before they were forced to remove them.
    I do question if Mercedes have moles in all other teams or the stewards as they always seem to have an inkling of what’s going on elsewhere in the paddock before anybody else. Maybe they got wind of another team planning to use it and just threw together a prototype to kill it.
    It was interesting that there wasn’t a huge uproar from other teams at that time either so everyone knew what was going on that weekend. They would have liked Mercedes to race it just so they could have a go at getting them thrown out but nobody was in any doubt that it would fail scrutineering.

  5. I do question if Mercedes have moles in all other teams or the stewards

    Why would any specific team need that when there are large numbers of media bods wandering up and down the pit lane, chatting to staff who may not know how secret the information they have is in actuality. Simply de-brief your own PR staff after they have had a session with the journos and sift through the info, send them out fishing for info from the journos even.
    If, as you suggest, Mercedes are managing to get info before others, then perhaps it’s because they are better at the information gathering and analysis of that info. Plus, you have the problem of loose lipped staff in the various teams

    Never ascribe to malice that which easily explained by stupidity is an old maxim.
    You don’t need a mole if the oppositions staff leak the info unwittingly.

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