Analysis: The tweaks that boosted Mercedes in Singapore

Mercedes arrived in Singapore knowing it would be on the back foot, as relatively speaking the longer wheelbase W08 has struggled at high-downforce, low-speed circuits already this season.

On top of this, Singapore hasn't been a happy hunting ground for Mercedes since the inception of the hybrid regulations, as the team struggles to reign in its own often over-ambitious power unit and brake cooling parameters.

Mercedes AMG F1 W08 comparison
Mercedes AMG F1 W08 comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

In search of increased low-speed balance and performance, the team revised its shark fin for Singapore, utilising a longer engine cover that met with the T-wing-mounting pillar behind.

The shark fin, that is now set to be retained under a regulatory U-turn by the teams and strategy group, increases the amount of side force available as the car rotates, decreasing slip angle, and tidies up turbulent airflow that may affect the rear wing.

The longer shark fin engine cover is also a bulkier affair, as the team looked to deal with the issue of heat rejection by including an outlet on the covers spine, a configuration we've seen it use already this season and was complimented by another large cooling outlet opened up around the upper rear wishbone (blue arrow).

Mercedes W08 new diffuser, Singapore GP
Mercedes W08 new diffuser, Singapore GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Looking to improve the W08's low-speed balance and increase downforce, the team mounted a new fin atop the outer section of the diffuser.

The fin, which is skewed outward, forces the airflow to interact with the already complex array of surfaces that are looking to manipulate and shape the airflow. It's a concert of high and low pressure collisions that create smaller vortices that roll up to create a much larger vortex.

Williams FW40, Ferrari SF70H and Ferrari SF15-T diffuser upstands
Williams FW40, Ferrari SF70H and Ferrari SF15-T diffuser upstands

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The idea of having a fin here is not a new one either, with several teams adopting solutions to work the outer section of the diffuser harder: Ferrari has mounted a stack of winglets here for some time now, whilst Williams has also offered up a solution that creates an adverse pressure gradient.

Force India

Force India find itself in a difficult position, as it essentially owns fourth position in the championship, save any more embarrassing collisions between its drivers or a miraculous turn around by Williams.

Their great start, compared with what was expected to be a renewed battle with Williams, has put it in somewhat of a quandary throughout the season, as in terms of development it would be easy from the outside to suggest that an early switch to the development of next year's car could pave the way for another momentum swing in 2018.

However, with relatively stable regulations for next year, it's easy to see why it has continued development at a pace, getting genuine full scale results that can be carried over to next year's challenger.

Both the shark fin and T-wing have been divisive additions for the fans, who expected Formula 1 to deliver on its promise of more aesthetically pleasing car design, and whilst the teams have recently lobbied for the allowance of shark fins for 2018 the T-wing will be excluded.

Force India VJM10 T-wing comparison, Monaco GP vs Singapore GP
Force India VJM10 T-wing comparison, Monaco GP vs Singapore GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Even so, this hasn't stopped the designers pushing on with development and Force India arrived in Singapore with ever more complex variants as it looks to improve its overall performance window.

Its T-wing, a more aggressive iteration of the one seen in Monaco and Hungary, featured slots in the leading edge of each of the three horizontal elements (highlighted in yellow), working it much harder and widening its operating window.

Force India VJM10 new engine cover, Singapore GP
Force India VJM10 new engine cover, Singapore GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Meanwhile, the most visceral update from anyone in Singapore was Force India's use of a radical fin arrangement atop its engine cover.

The 'Stegosaurus' spine fins, as even Force India has dubbed them, are mounted in tandem either side on the engine cover's spine and tally a staggering 64 separate surfaces.

Once again it's a more radical play on something we've seen other teams do already, with both Red Bull and Williams (inset) using shorter and more simplistic strips mounted astride their engine covers in 2017.

The fins are also paired with another Williams favourite that can also be found on the Ferrari too - an airbox winglet (blue arrow).

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Series Formula 1
Article type Analysis