Mercedes is planning to race with a new front wing on its 2022 Formula 1 car at the Mexico Grand Prix – a wing which raised eyebrows when first revealed in Austin last weekend.
The team publicly displayed a new wing for the W13 at the United States GP as part of a wider upgrade package but didn’t run the wing detail all weekend.
This followed question marks being raised over the legality of the specially shaped fasteners between the two upper flaps that led to an “exchange” with the FIA.
But Mercedes Formula 1 technical director Mike Elliott said it was always the plan to not run the wing as the team didn’t have enough copies of it for both drivers to run the update.
Elliott said he was unsure whether Mercedes would run the new front wing detail during the three remaining races in 2022 because of the risk of it being found illegal when it only provides a marginal performance improvement.
“Personally, I think we could argue them,” Elliott said in Austin. “But the question becomes whether we want to or not.
“The gain for those bits is so small, is it worth the risk of falling foul of the stewards?”
The legality question marks centre around what the primary purpose of the design is.
Mercedes says the fasteners on the wing are there to keep it together while the counterargument is that their distribution is deliberate for aerodynamic gain.
“The reason we didn’t run it in Austin was that we only had one of those parts,” trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said in the team’s regular race debrief YouTube video.
“So, if we damaged it during qualifying it would have meant the car that damaged the wing had to start from the back.
“Also with a very busy programme, we had the tyre test in FP2, we didn’t actually have time to evaluate.
“We have more of those parts available in Mexico, we will run that on the Friday, we’ll check it’s all working as expected, and the plan at this stage is to race that wing.”
Shovlin confirmed that while Austin’s upgrade marked the final major development of the season, the team will still make changes to the W13 during the final three races.
“That is our last major update but there are always a string of new parts, smaller parts, that we are looking at,” Shovlin added.
“Either to get a small gain in performance, [or] at a lot of it as this stage of the year though is learning for next year, so some of those test parts are really just trying to understand some of the development direction we want to go in.
“So like I said, it’s the last major update, but it won’t be the last change to the car.”
As well as attempting to gather data for when it – according to team boss Toto Wolff – changes the “DNA” of its car next year, Mercedes is also trying to save itself from its first win-less F1 season since 2011.