Last week’s testing revealed some details about where the teams were aiming when tackling the new front wing rules, and there were a surprising number of differences the teams took.
Generally, we can catagorise them into three groups, most notably the Mercedes and Red Bull sporting wing designs very similar to the 2018 type, just the mandated removal of the extra aero pieces removed. At the other end of the design spectrum see’s Alfa Romeo and Ferrari with a near complete deletion of the last third of their front wings in an effort to preserve the outwash effect.
Just as a side note, TJ13 revealed that this action taken by the teams, against the spirit of the new front wing rules mandated by Ross Brawn and the FIA, has actually worsened the ability to overtake in 2019. Read more on that here.
Mercedes do uniquely run their endplates inwards however, which is completely counter-intuitive to the out-wash concept. Expert pundits are unsure if this is an inwash design working in conjunction with the pointed nose concept of the Mercedes, or just a clever way of out-washing air around the front tyres.
Regardless, the front wing design of Mercedes has been somewhat carried over from their general car concept of a low pointed nose, coupled with a long wheelbase and flat car angle to the ground. At the other end of the design style see’s Ferrari has adopted a Red Bull style ‘high rake’ concept with a slightly shorter wheelbase to Mercedes.
Last week’s testing has been a bit of a wake-up call to Mercedes. Yes their team is renowned for being very conservative with their program, never going for ‘glory runs’, but it seems that the team is spooked by the consistent performance of the Italians. Indeed TJ13 calculated late last week that if you take into consideration the performance delta of the Pirelli tyres, Ferrari is very quick and consistently faster compared to everyone else.
Quotes published by Germany’s Autobild publication today further cement that either Mercedes are either playing it very very cool, to the point of actively taking the ‘mickey’ out of Ferrari, or they are seriously considering a full redesign of their front wing.
“Ferrari is the yardstick and we’re all guided by them. So we have to look at their concept and decide whether we want to stay true to our philosophy or whether we have to change it” Toto Wolff admits.
“A complete conversion takes about three months,” estimates ex-Jordan and Autosport’s Technical analyst Gary Anderson, who observed the Silver Arrow on the track, calling it “nervous” in the bends. Anderson also estimated that the Mercedes car is quite far off the pace of 2018, as much as 2 seconds, when considering the performance gains across the grid despite the new front wings.
Should Mercedes change their entire car concept now, the new ‘B’ spec might not be ready until the European debut in Barcelona. When asked, Toto only said that it all depends on the second half of testing starting tomorrow confessing that they’ll “wait and see” after this week.
Gamesmanship? Could be… but if they do need to change wing philosophy, it’ll likely mean a complete car change as Ferrari and Red Bull use high-rake, something Mercedes has traditionally shunned since it’s days as a Brawn GP team.
That said, TJ13’s resident F1 Forensics tech analyst thinks that there is some mileage in a complete Merc overhaul. Mercedes runs two concepts concurrent to the other, especially so when they had Geoff Willis leading one team and Ellis the other. Aldo Costa oversaw both.
So Mercedes deem it necessary, they certainly have the capacity for it, and they may have had an eye on the change given the leap forward other teams have made with this rule set.
Ferrari v Mercedes
Ferrari v Red Bull
Ferrari v Renault
Ferrari v Haas
Ferrari v McLaren
Ferrari v Racing Point
Ferrari v Toro Rosso
Ferrari v Alfa Romeo
Ferrari v Williams