Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis

Tech analysis: Mercedes' radical approach to nose upgrades

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From a design point of view, Mercedes has had an aggressive car for the last few years, but 2017 has ramped that complexity up even further.

Mercedes' introduction of a new nose at round five of the championship shows the level of planning that goes into the development of these large-scale update packages, given the need to pass a new crash test for the nose ahead of its use in a grand prix weekend.

A crash test was needed, as the nose is much narrower than its predecessor, slimming in the central portion before arching outward to meet with the chassis.

The challenge of designing a slimmer nose is no mean feat given the need to maintain its ability to pass the crash test - decelerating the car over the same distance in the event of an accident, without significantly increasing its weight either.

Mercedes W08 narrow nose, Spanish GP
Mercedes W08 narrow nose, Spanish GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The team's desire to reduce the width of the nose is due to the other more radical solution that was mounted to the W08 in Spain - the turning vane cape (red arrow).

We've not seen anything used like this before, at least not around the nosecone, with the bold design draped around and under the nose creating a significant aerodynamic surface with which to shape and caress the airflow as it passes by.

Of course, this structure is in a particularly sensitive area of the car, helping to guide the Y250 vortex and limiting the impact of the front tyre wake by sheer virtue of its physical tunnel-like presence and the aerodynamic effect it'll undoubtedly have.

Mercedes AMG F1 W08 front detail
Mercedes AMG F1 W08 front detail

Photo by: Sutton Images

It's important at this point to show an image of the 'cape' from behind, illustrating the reason why some have compared it to a mini-diffuser.

Clearly it's not in close enough proximity to the ground to fulfill exactly the same purpose but the vortex that is generated at the edge of a diffuser is perhaps being generated here, too.

Mercedes W08 narrow nose
Mercedes W08 narrow nose

Photo by: Sutton Images

It's also important to note the geometry of the 'cape' side-on, with air being directed centrally under the nose and over the flat trailing edge of the cape with a vertical divider forcing the direction of the airflow as it meets on the centreline.

The winglet mounted behind (red arrow), which evolved from the team's previous use of a bat-wing, also fits in with this airflow scheme, guiding the airflow under the car's chassis toward their next set of aerodynamic structures around the sidepod.

It's worth noting that with the arrival of the turning vane cape the ride height sensor has been removed from the centre on this winglet to improve both surfaces' performance.

Micro detailing

Mercedes W08 front brake duct
Mercedes W08 front brake duct

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

One of the smaller details that was revised on the W08 in Spain was the winglet mounted on the front suspension's upright extension. A single-element winglet sprung up here in Australia but in Spain the team decided to revise that, changing it for a two-piece affair.

This might seem like a very small change but it just goes to show the level of detail that teams go into as they strive to improve performance.

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Series Formula 1
Article type Analysis
Topic Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis