Tech Talk: Mercedes new front wing and other trick bits spotted in Shanghai

Tech guru Matt Somerfield kept an eagle eye on development tweaks in the Shanghai pitlane during the course of the Chinese Grand Prix weekend. Here is what he saw;

New nosecone on the Mercedes W05

New nosecone on the Mercedes W05

Mercedes W05: New Nose

Mercedes had reportedly been working on a new nose ever since the WO5 was released, with the team supposedly failing several crash tests on the way. In China the team finally unveiled the new nose and although it doesn’t appear to be significantly different at first glance, there are marked improvements.

You’ll note that the forward extensions of the nose/wing pylons have been deleted [1] whilst an increase in the nose tips height is also evident [2]. This increase in height at the front also means that the shaping of the underside of the nose is more sculpted, too [3].

These will all lead to a marked improvement in the quality of airflow that travels under and around the nose, which of course has an exponential increase in performance on parts further down the car.

Older nosecone used in Bahrain testing

Older nosecone used in Bahrain testing

Furthermore, the reduction in length of the pylons means they will have a reduced effect on how they interact with the airflow in the Y250 region and the wings themselves. You’ll note that Mercedes have also taken the opportunity to re-shape the vertical pitot tube pylon mounted on the chassis [4].

You might be wondering why Mercedes are able to run a nose design that doesn’t feature a ‘finger’ style appendage like most of the rest of the field.

This is because the most forward section of the nose and pylons make up the area (mandated in size) that the other teams’ fingers extensions make – split into two in the case of Mercedes, with a very small area creating an inverted U running across the nose tip to join these two surfaces.

Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari F14 T with aero sensor

Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari F14 T with aero sensors

Ferrari F14T Brake Duct Scoop & Blown Hub

Ferrari were keen to test their front brake duct / blown hub concept in the first of the post race in-seasons tests in Bahrain and carried it over for China. I was asked several times when the pictures emerged from the test at Bahrain (above) why the team would opt to run pitot tube arrays in series on one side of the car.

The reason they were doing this is to gain data with the blown hub operational and also blanked off, assessing if the blown hub was performing as predicted.

The idea of course is to assist the airflow that’s out-washing from the front wing and stop the airflow dispatched by the outside of the front wheel impinging on how it passes by the outside edge.

Ferrari F14T hub seen in China

Ferrari F14T ‘blown’ hub seen in China

This is done with the addition of the enlarged scoop on the inner face that then blows through the centre of the hub and out of a shaped duct.

The shape and orientation of the outer duct will have an effect on how the airflow affects performance, ideally this results in more performance for the floor and diffuser, as the wheel wake doesn’t converge along the side of the car as quickly.

This solution is nothing new and was tried by both Williams and Red Bull in 2013, both of which quickly dropped the solution as it didn’t make the gains that they desired.

In the case of Ferrari and moreover due to the reduction of the front wing’s width in 2014 a blown hub may be pertinent, especially as it may give a little more stability to the wing’s performance and give a performance advantage downstream.

Red Bull RB10 nose and front wing

Red Bull RB10 nose and front wing

Red Bull RB10 Front Wing & Brake Duct amendments

Red Bull arrived in China knowing that they’re making some small headway, at least in being the best of the rest.

The team are clearly unhappy with the speed disparity to the Mercedes pwered teams, owing to the ERS issues suffered by the Renault powered teams and so are trying to make up the deficit through aero efficiency. In Bahrain we found the team used a front wing without the cascades, in order to reduce the amount of drag and increase top speed.

Red Bull RB10 front wheel hub

Red Bull RB10 front wheel hub

The cascades were of course more critical in Shanghai as it’s a front limited circuit, meaning that you’d take as much front end downforce as you can achieve without affecting the overall car balance.

Therefore, having utilised a brake duct over the last few races that featured some fins at it’s base with scrolled ends, the team arrived with a new solution minus the fins in China which I’d suspect was in an effort to create a similar drag loss to not having the front wing cascades. (Technical Analysis by Matt Somerfield)

Subbed by AJN.