The front wing that Mercedes had brought to the United States GP was declared “illegal” by the FIA and they were ultimately unable to mount it on their car, but we will see a modified version next week at the Mexican GP.
The solution brought to Austin by the Brackley aerodynamicists did not pass the FIA’s supervision prior to the appointment, so the novelty, which was visible to all in the pit lane, could not be installed in the Mercedes W13.
What happened? The explanation is very simple: the German team’s engineers tried unsuccessfully to convert the last flap supports of its front wing into flow diverters, with clearly aerodynamic functions.
However, the rules are clear: article 3.9.8.b of the F1 Technical Regulations states that each team can place up to eight brackets on each side of the front wing to connect two flaps. This standard also defines the measurements of these supports: they must not exceed 40 mm, they must not have a thickness of more than 6 mm and they must not exceed a length of 70 mm.
Those values were not respected by the Brackley aerodynamicists and therefore the FIA scrutineers declared their new solution illegal.
After the news broke, Mercedes was accused of wanting to make its front wing direct airflow out of the front tires, taking advantage of structural supports that became aerodynamic elements that became vortex generators.
Mercedes sent the solution in a CAD model to the FIA for them to look at before turning it into reality and taking it to the Circuit of the Americas, leaving some wondering why the solution wasn’t banned until it hit the track.
At a time when the construction of a new part not only has technical implications, but also economic ones, it was inevitable that the controversy would arise about the unnecessary expense incurred by Mercedes when designing and building a part that would later be illegal.
Had that been the case, the silver bullets team would be within their rights to ask the FIA to have the costs of said front wing deducted from the team’s budget cap.
But according to Motorsport.com, the report that the part did not meet the technical regulations was made and dispatched on time, but Brackley had already started production of the part in question.
That’s because the concept could be reusable. In fact, next week, in Mexico, the Brackley team will bring a second version to the track that they hope will respect article 3.9.8.b of the Technical Regulations and can be mounted on the car during the weekend.
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