Tech Talk: Exactly what did Mercedes have in their bag of tricks for Malaysia?

The development war rages behind the scenes of the 2014 Formula 1 World Championship – perhaps more so than ever before, as the quest for downforce utopia is top priority with the all new regulations for this season, tech guru Matthew Somerfield takes a good look at what Mercedes had bolted on to the race winning W05 during the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend.


Front wing

Mercedes took two different front wings to Melbourne but raced the older version and whilst both were run during the Free Practice sessions in Malaysia it was once again the older configuration that the drivers preferred.

That’s not to say it’s still the same wing as they used in Melbourne, with the team still chasing performance they added 3 Vortex Generators on the second tier of the mainplane.

These disturb the airflow, as they are placed ahead of the strakes that extrude from the back of the wing, breaking up the airflow before the strakes and increasing their efficiency.


Engine cover & radiator cooling outlets

Mercedes enjoyed the luxury of assessing a plethora of cooling options during pre-season testing owing to the mileage they completed, compared with their rivals. One of several options trialled for warmer climates was utilised in Malaysia with the WO5 sporting a much larger engine cover exit. More in-keeping with the McLaren MP4-29’s regular cover it features both the usual central outlet through which the exhaust extrudes with a larger outlet either side.

The additional bodywork is great in terms of cooling but it comes at the expense of additional drag, the slower moving hot air now exits in a crucial zone and so the engine cover’s surfaces will have been carefully crafted in order to mitigate the losses.

The team also had tried and tested revisions (tested throughout pre-season in various conditions) on the radiator cooling outlets just behind the cockpit. These allow hot radiator air to exit from the sidepod and are carefully managed by the teams in terms of size, dependent on conditions. This is because the airflow dispatched by them has had it’s energy utilsed by the radiators and will therefore be slower than the airflow passing over the sidepod.


Y100 winglets & diffuser gurney extensions

Although Mercedes are currently the class of the field they are producing minor updates to enhance their superior package. In Malaysia the team added two small winglets in the Y100 region (The central 200mm or 100 from the centreline (Y100) is design free space allowing the teams to proliferate the area with bodywork) these small winglets may not seem like much but they help to frame the flow structures that are already in place, enhancing them.

The team are already taking advantage of the area under the crash structure with the placement of a winglet and longitudinal triangular vanes, whilst beneath it they have shaped the both the diffuser and floor to create a U Bend, both getting around the new starter motor hole regulations and increasing the flow from the upper floors surface into the diffuser.

Sitting on the periphery of the floor’s U bend the new winglets act like a perforated gurney, upwashing the airflow, aiding the structures already in place, including pulling airflow through the diffuser. (Analysis by Matt Somerfield)

Subbed by AJN.