Is the New W15 Front Wing Illegal? Technical Analysis

Mercedes unveiled their innovative W15 car for the 2024 season, featuring radical aerodynamic and mechanical changes, including a controversial front wing design, aimed at solving rear instability issues and closing the gap to Red Bull.

Highlights

‣ Mercedes introduced the W15 for the 2024 season with significant changes aimed at solving rear instability issues, featuring a complete redesign in aerodynamics, chassis, gearbox, rear suspension, and a new driving position as per Lewis Hamilton‘s request.

‣ The W15’s front wing design is notably innovative, incorporating three flaps connected in a manner that could potentially recreate a vortex similar to the banned Y250, enhancing downforce. This design, while within the technical regulations, might face scrutiny during technical checks for possibly going against the spirit of the regulations.

‣ The car also showcases a shorter gearbox and a pull-rod rear suspension system, which, along with other aerodynamic changes like the cooling inlet design and the engine cover shape, aims to improve airflow, cooling efficiency, and rear downforce, addressing the previous model’s instability issues.

‣ Mercedes’ approach with the W15 is bold, incorporating innovative solutions to closely challenge Red Bull, aiming for a competitive position in the Constructors’ Championship alongside Ferrari, Aston Martin, and McLaren, with its true performance to be assessed in Bahrain.


Mercedes just rolled out their beast for the 2024 season – the W15. And oh boy, it’s a game-changer. They’ve thrown in some pretty radical tweaks compared to its predecessor. The main aim? To tackle those pesky rear instability issues that were a thorn in their side last year. Toto Wolff’s crossing his fingers, hoping they’ll start the season hot on Red Bull’s heels.

So, what’s the big deal with the W15? For starters, the Brackley squad went back to the drawing board for this one. They didn’t just tweak a few bits here and there. Nope. They overhauled the aerodynamics, chassis, and even the gearbox and rear suspension. And guess what? Lewis Hamilton’s wish was their command – they’ve shifted the driving position away from the front tyres. But wait, there’s more. This car’s got a few tricks up its sleeve that might just have the FIA raising an eyebrow.

Let’s dive into the juicy bits, shall we? The front wing. It’s nothing short of brilliant. With three flaps (not counting the mainplane), it’s a marvel of engineering. The top flap’s barely hanging on with a tiny carbon profile. The other two? They’re snug against the nose. But here’s the kicker – this setup might just be skirting the edge of what’s kosher according to FIA regulations. It’s all about recreating that infamous Y250 vortex, aiming to suck the car down to the track with more downforce.

The FIA, bless their hearts, tried to put an end to these vortex shenanigans with the 2022 regulations. They wanted to clean up the turbulent mess the cars were leaving behind. But Mercedes? They found a loophole. As long as the design doesn’t flout the specifics of the technical regs, they’re golden. Yet, the real test will come when the W15 faces the scrutineers in Bahrain.

And there’s more to the W15 than just a clever front wing. The nose? It’s not just sitting pretty on the mainplane anymore. It’s hooked up to the second flap, stretching the main plane out like it’s reaching for something. Plus, it’s bulky, getting thicker as it approaches the chassis. This isn’t just for looks – it’s all part of the grand plan with the front wing.

But wait, there’s even more. The gearbox and rear suspension have gone under the knife too. The cooling inlet’s got a new shape, almost like it’s reaching out for a hug. And the side pods? They’ve been scooped out to make room for more air to flow through, thanks to some clever internal rearranging and radiator repackaging. The engine cover’s been slimmed down too, ditching those bulky gulleys for a sleeker look that helps channel air and hot gasses to the rear wing, cutting down on drag.

And let’s not forget the suspension. It’s been switched up to a pull-rod setup, laying the tie rod almost flat. This isn’t just for show – it opens up space for air to rush towards the diffuser and smooths out the car’s handling, especially at the rear. Remember how the W14 was a bit of a handful? Well, this change, along with a shorter gearbox and a revamped chassis, is Mercedes’ answer to that problem.

In the end, Mercedes has thrown down the gauntlet with the W15. It’s a bold move, packed with innovations and tweaks that could shake up the pecking order. They’re not just playing follow-the-leader with Red Bull; they’re carving out their own path. Will it pay off? Bahrain’s where we’ll find out. But for now, the W15 looks set to mix it up with the big boys – Ferrari, Aston Martin, and McLaren – in the fight for second best.

Albert Ramirez
Albert Ramirez
Albert Ramirez is a senior writer at F1Highlights.com. With a passion for motorsports, Albert brings a unique perspective to the world of Formula One. With over five years of experience as a sports reporter, he has honed his skills in capturing the essence of the sport.

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