The Mercedes engine may be the best of the F1 field, but the German car is no slouch, as its rivals have found. Giorgio Piola explains how Ferrari and Red Bull are following Mercedes' aero lead.
While Mercedes' current domination of Formula 1 owes much to its engine, the team also knows that its aerodynamic performance is of a very high standard too.
It is no surprise, therefore, to have noticed a growing trend among its opposition to take on board some of the design concepts that Mercedes has put to such good use.
It shows that even in F1, if you can't beat them, you should join them.
Red Bull front wing
Red Bull has come to the conclusion that the aero concept it put to such good use over the years – of running the front of its car as low as possible to the ground – no longer works.
The new nose regulations for this year, allied to the impact of ride height changes forced by mandatory titanium skid blocks, has scuppered its downforce figures.
Appearing briefly in Austria practice and the test, and racing for the first time at the British Grand Prix, was a new front wing that took some inspiration from Mercedes.
The new wing is characterised by an upper flap that features three elements, as well as an extra vertical bulkhead that further helps direct airflow to the outside of the front wheels. The old version is inset above.
Ferrari front wing
Ferrari has talked about bringing minor upgrades to its cars at every race, and at Silverstone it followed this through with some Mercedes-inspired changes.
Its new front wing featured an extra vertical fin that will be designed to help channel air around the front wing. Ferrari also removed a horizontal flap from the outside of the endplate.
Also interesting was a more sloped upper flap, and a much more aggressive angle of curve at the bottom of the wing. The older version is inset above.
As well as the change to the front wing, Ferrari has also tweaked its camera mounting set-up.
Following an FIA clarification about the design of the horns that must hold the mandatory cameras, teams have been evaluating how best to minimise aerodynamic loss.
For Silverstone, Ferrari introduced new mounts (main image) – which were much thinner than those used before (see inset top left) and are now of a similar design to that used by Mercedes (inset bottom right)
Ferrari also introduced other minor tweaks at the rear end of the car, once again in a bid to improvement aerodynamic performance.
As well as a change to the brake duct design, and tweaks to the floor in front of the rear wheels, Ferrari also tweaked a vortex generation that had first appeared at the Spanish Grand Prix (see inset).