The well respected German journalist Tobias Gruner from Auto Motor und Sport, today published a very interesting article on the amus website detailing the modification to the Mercedes wheels.
The below is direct translation, so apologies if some of the grammar isn’t perfect.
FEAR OF FERRARI PROTEST
Mercedes modified rims
Mercedes has voluntarily decided to close holes in the controversial rear wheel rims in Austin. The engineers feared a protest from Ferrari and a possible disqualification.
The battle between Ferrari and Mercedes is fought with no quarter. The two rivals keep an eye each other very closely. When the Silver Arrow in Spa-Francorchamps was equipped with new rear wheel rims, the technicians in Maranello took a close look at the upgrade.
Apparently, the Italians are of the opinion that the holes in the interior of the wheel hub, which are to serve better heat dissipation, do not comply with the regulations.
The FIA got a letter from Vettel’s team before the race in Austin asking for clarification. The stewards from the FIA looked at the rims afterwards, but saw no breach of regulation.
Holes in the rims illegal?
The dispute is about a question of definition: Because the rims turn while driving, the critics argue that it is a moving aerodynamic tool that is not allowed. A similar case had already happened in 2012 at Red Bull. At that time, the Newey car had holes in the axle directly on the hub. At that time had to be retrofitted to FIA statement.
Mercedes decided in Austin despite the green light of the FIA experts to close the holes. The release was granted only on Saturday. That was too hot for those responsible. In a protest by Ferrari, not the FIA would make the verdict, but the stewards.
And who knows if they would have followed the interpretation of the FIA or the protesting team. Mercedes will only resort to the perforated rims again when the World Federation confirms in black and white that they are safe from protests. The negotiations are going on in Mexico.
Mercedes-trick 2019 even more important
The competition is waiting for the verdict. “I expect some interesting interpretations of this concept in the coming season,” explained Renault technical director Nick Chester, for example. “Next year it will be even more important to blow the air through the rims, because with the new front wings you can not push the flow out so easily.
“If you can generate more “outwash” on the bike, then the topic becomes even more important. ” clarifies the Renault director.
The suspicion of Mercedes opponents that the new hub design was the key to the Silver Arrow drivers in the second half of the season, the temperatures of the rear tires had better grip, incidentally, was repeatedly refuted.
Mercedes fought in Spa, in Sochi, Suzuka and Austin with blisters on the rear tire.
In Spa, Sochi and Suzuka Mercedes left open. The problem in Austin has arisen for other reasons. From Mercedes we heard about rims: “A small improvement. Like the many small aero-steps, too. ”
Updated: AMuS pics from Mexico, displaying holes in the Mercedes rims.
— Tobi Grüner 🏁 (@tgruener) October 25, 2018