until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

Mercedes front wing may need tweaking after FIA ‘exchange’

by Scott Mitchell-Malm, Edd Straw
3 min read

Mercedes may need to “tweak” a new front wing design before running it in Formula 1’s Mexican Grand Prix following “an exchange with the FIA”.

The team’s final upgrade of the season broke cover at the United States Grand Prix this weekend although a new front wing that was publicly displayed on Thursday has not been used.

This new wing has five redesigned fasteners between the two upper flats and the FIA is believed to be questioning whether the primary purpose of the fasteners’ slightly curved design is actually to direct the airflow outwards.

The new 2022 rules were designed to eliminate this effect, although Mercedes contends the primary purpose of this part of the wing is simply to keep it together.

Mercedes could tweak the size of the fasteners or just run the wing as it is, but the matter is effectively in a phase of discussion.

Team principal Toto Wolff said it was a question of “whether we can run it or whether we think it’s good to run it”.

When asked explicitly if he could explain what needs to be changed for it to be used in Mexico next week, Wolff replied: “Well I could, but I don’t want to go in the detail because we’re thinking of running it and we had an exchange with the FIA.

“So maybe we need to tweak a little bit here and there. But it’s not yet decided.”

Tr Glass Front Wing W13 Austin Png

The rest of the Mercedes upgrade package, with updates to the floor and rear wing, has been used at Austin.

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell qualified fifth and sixth fastest, six tenths of a second from pole position. Grid penalties for Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez will elevate the Mercedes to row two.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton suggested that on the surface, the upgrade has yielded little benefit and said “given that everyone’s worked so hard to bring an upgrade this weekend and the gap’s the same, that’s difficult”.

“All weekend it had been feeling really good,” he said.

Xpb 1179090 Hires

“I was feeling great in the car yesterday in FP1 and then even in FP2 with the tyre test and then this morning.

“And then we got into qualifying and the thing went massively to oversteer and so I was just catching the rear a lot of the time.

“We went rearwards mechanically, just one step, it’s tiny, but it seemed to make a huge difference, maybe with the temperature drop.”

But Wolff and Russell were more optimistic. Russell said “if you take the season as an average and you look at the length of this lap, it’s probably better than the majority of our qualifying sessions”.

And Wolff reckoned that it was better than Mercedes’ initial expectations for this race before the upgrade was ready.

“Austin didn’t look great on paper a few weeks ago and then we brought the upgrade and we are six tenths off,” said Wolff.

“Lewis could have probably chopped two tenths away and it would have been four tenths.

“In Austin that looks like a solid result considering the weaknesses of the chassis overall.”

Mercedes has generally had a bigger qualifying deficit this season than on race pace, so Wolff called its potential gap to the front a “good indication” for the race and said Mercedes “need to have the mindset of saying we will race for the victory”.

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