Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 – W04

Mercedes became one of the eight teams so far to release their 2013 Formula One challenger at Jerez on Monday morning, continuing the trend of evolving last year’s platform into what they hope will be a “step change in performance” for this coming season. At a glance, the new Mercedes W04 appears to be very similar to last year’s W03. However, there are many hidden details that the team have mentioned which aim to improve the currently underperforming constructor.

Front Wing and Front Bulkhead

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The launch car featured the same front wing that appeared at the final race in Brazil last year, but Ross Brawn has stated that a new, 5-plane front wing will be tested, as it is the centrepiece of the new car.

The actual nose of the car seems to be identical to last year, although a partial vanity panel has been added to clean up airflow over the top of the chassis. There are still visible sections of the previous “step” (from last year) right at the front of the chassis, possibly because they interact with the direction of the airflow across the sidepods, so leaving these exposed should give Mercedes a better understanding of the aerodynamics of the car further back.

Note that there is a strake running along the side of the nosecone similar to that of the VJM08 to divert airflow through the suspension layout efficiently. On the subject of suspension, Mercedes have opted to stick with its current pushrod format like the majority of teams have done for this coming year.

The brake ducts have been paid more attention to from all teams this year, and Mercedes are no exception. Temperatures are quite low in Jerez at this time of the year, so although there is no need to test large ducts, analysing how the fairings interact with the rest of the airflow will be important for everyone to try and extract every point of downforce for this season.

Cockpit Area and Roll Hoop

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Mercedes have clearly done a lot of work in this area, as the car looks much more sophisticated in this region. The wing mirrors are now not too dissimilar to that of the Red Bull’s, choosing to mount them on vertical “blades” rather than the aerofoiled shaped ones of 2012. Directly beneath them are a total of 6 (3 on each side) vorticy generators, almost identical to the two that the Ferrari featured on last year’s (and this year’s) car. They get progressively wider from the first one back, conditioning the airflow that comes along the chassis top to aid the semi-coanda exhausts further down the line (see later).

The sidepods feature two vertical fences that act as vorticy generators right along the outer section, which work in unity with the exhausts. The sidepod winglet that attaches to the floor has been broadened lower down along with some intricate barge board detailing. These changes are likely to be efforts to really maximise the airflow around this region and feed it to the floor and diffuser effectively, as it comes in at very high energy around the T-tray.

The roll hoop as been redesigned and the duct beneath it has been almost completely removed. There is a removable panel that can be seen just behind the T-cam, most likely to be changed in conjunction with the development of the DRD (Drag Reduction Device) that Mercedes continue to look in to, as confirmed by Ross Brawn.

Sidepods

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Mercedes have done a much better job this year in terms of packaging the new car, as the W04 has even smaller intakes than the W03! Mercedes engines traditionally need greater cooling than the Ferrari and Renault units, so the detail that has gone in here should bear fruit in terms of lap time, as less cooling inlets and outlets should correlate to less drag (and potentially more downforce). The very outer edges of the sidepod have been raised higher than the rest of the bodywork, provoking the air to guide itself over the exhausts and boost rear downforce. Gary Anderson has stated that this may actually increase lift on the car, I would like a second opinion on this.

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The semi-coanda exhaust layout has been retained for 2013. However, the entire rear of the sidepods have been tidied up and chipped away at. Personally, I think the rear bodywork, where the suspension uprights meet the gearbox, looks very similar to the Toro Rosso undercut section from their last two or three cars, aiding the airflow from the T-tray area into the central section of the diffuser. The floor detail is quite intricate: Mercedes have chosen to run the “slot” just in front of the rear tyres (although technically it isn’t slot, see here – http://scarbsf1.com/blog1/2012/06/03/red-bull-floor-hole-legality/) as well as a curved fence to guide the exhaust gases down into the gap between the tyre and diffuser. It is basically an evolution in this area as all teams are trying desperately to regain most of the blown diffuser effects that dominated the 2011 season.

Rear Wing and Diffuser

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The rear wing is identical to the one run in Friday practise in Brazil last year, featuring a new DRS actuation fairing and getting rid of the controversial (and perhaps slightly unsuccessful) DDRS (Double Drag Reduction System) holes and endplates. The Y75 winglet (often dubbed as a “monkey seat”) has been pinched inwards at its leading edge, creating an expansion of airflow as it exits the car, which should create a little bit of additional low pressure.

The brake ducts have seen yet more additional scoops/flicks to push the car down at the rear. I still expect brake duct development to be an outstanding feature across the season.

Finally, the diffuser has had some minor refinements, but no doubt the Melbourne spec. floor and diffuser will be tested during the final days of winter, when the action really starts to hot up.

As always, feedback would be great as I am only beginner. Thankyou for reading!

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2 thoughts on “Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 – W04

  1. Morris Dancer

    Two points:

    Bear* fruit, not bare it, unless you’re thinking of a lady exposing her mangos 😉

    More seriously, this bit interested me:
    “The very outer edges of the sidepod have been raised higher than the rest of the bodywork, provoking the air to guide itself over the exhausts and boost rear downforce. Gary Anderson has stated that this may actually increase lift on the car, I would like a second opinion on this. ”

    Rear grip and tyre-shredding has been the bane of Mercedes since it return to the sport. D’you think that this is set to continue for 2013? Also, how will the car design in this area increase the lift of the car?

    Reply
  2. thewptformula Post author

    Thanks for picking up on that, spelling mistakes are common, might write it up on word before posting so I know everything is correct!

    Again, hard to tell. They only did 11 laps today due to an electrical fault, which is not major concern. They should be able to sort out a few basics with their baseline package for this week before bringing a few more bits to Barcelona and so on, so you’d expect improvement. The 2013 tyres are softer than last year’s, so that’s also worth remembering, might cause Mercedes a few headaches if they haven’t got on top of last season’s setup issues.

    On the sidepods, a larger surface area generates more lift. If you have a flat, large plane in direct airflow, there is a higher surface area for the higher and lower pressure regions to act upon, therefore it should effectively produce more lift. Gary Anderson is suggesting that the raised edges on the sidepods have the same effect, but I don’t think it will be a big one. Afterall, Mercedes have a windtunnel and Mr. Anderson doesn’t!

    Reply

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