Mercedes trick floor revealed as Bahrain F1 testing starts

Mercedes has revealed the trick floor that it wanted to stay hidden from other teams before the start of Formula 1 testing.

Mercedes trick floor revealed as Bahrain F1 testing starts

The world champion outfit had launched its W12 earlier this month but been open that it was not fitted with a real version of the floor that it would be running in 2021.

With F1’s aero rules having changed this year in a bid to cut back on downforce, teams have been forced to rework the designs they had in this area of the car. In particular, the removal of an area of the floor ahead of the rear tyre, plus a ban on holes and slots, was aimed at robbing teams of around 10 percent of downforce.

Teams are well aware that how well they recover the downforce in this area will be key to their fortunes in 2021, so they have devoted a lot of effort to trying to make gains.

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Mercedes technical director James Allison explained that his squad decided to hold back on showing the floor because it did not want other teams to get a head start in being able to copy its idea.

“The bit we're not showing you is down along the edge of the floor," he explained at the car launch. "That area is the area that was most affected by the new regulations, where they tried to pull performance away from the car by changing the floor regs. Down there, there's a bunch of aerodynamic detail that we are not quite ready to release to the world.

"Not because it's not there, but because we don't want our competitors to see it. We don't want them starting to try and put similar things in their wind tunnels. It just buys us a couple of weeks extra.

"I think we all look very closely at what our competitors do, so we know our competitors will be looking. And we don't have to show it yet, so we're not."

Ahead of the start of pre-season testing though, all the 2021 cars were rolled out on to the track for a photo opportunity – forcing teams to finally show off their current designs.

The Mercedes floor has an intriguing arrangement with the floor edge rippled as it runs back from the front of the sidepod area.

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Mercedes F1 W12 floor detail

Mercedes F1 W12 floor detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The floor section ahead of the cutout is much busier than we’d ordinarily expect, with five upturned scrolls placed on its edge in coordination with the supports for the bold flap mounted above them.  

As we’ve seen from some of the other teams during their reveals, the floor also has the small notch at the point where the floor cutout begins. But rather than there being a cluster of winglets or a change in floor geometry to coincide with it, this area remains clear of clutter, at least for the moment.  

Ahead of the rear wheel is where the action really ramps up though, as Mercedes has opted for a really bold design on the floor’s edge. Not only do we find what is the largest piece of aerodynamic furniture we’ve seen so far, but it’s also split into multiple sections, all of which have their own curvatures to entice the airflow in very specific ways.  

Furthermore, the final section of floor has been tilted upward with a downward facing Gurney tab providing an abrupt surface for the airflow to clash with (blue arrow).  

Inboard of this wing cluster, Mercedes has three floor strakes, all with their own intricate geometries that look to force the airflow between the tyre sidewall and edge of the diffuser in a more controlled manner.  

It’s also interesting to see that Mercedes appears to have forsaken the maximum volume available in the diffuser, with the upper floor bulge clearly much taller in the mid section than it is in the outer section.  

This is further exaggerated by the cavernous trench that’s been created in the central portion of the floor and gives the airflow more space to operate in within the coke bottle region (red arrow). 

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