Mercedes are ready to make the first significant hardware change to their cars this weekend in Melbourne. Formula 1 enthusiasts are expecting to see a brand new rear wing at the very least and probably some other changes accompanying it.
These specific changes are the first of many changes that are under development programs that can access the potential the experts believe. Several mitigations underlying the aerodynamic problems are implemented through the sticking-type plaster system. The team is currently in the research phase as a more in-depth solution is required for the problem.
The Mercedes porpoising problem
Because of the car’s severe porpoising issue, the team had to run it with a very different aerodynamic set-up from the one that was developed in simulation. This has influenced the rear wing designs that have been chosen. Because of the porpoising issue, the automobile is unable to create the underbody downforce that the simulation predicted, and the only way to keep the problem under control is to raise the ride height.
That is a very inefficient means of avoiding the porpoising barrier, as explained in last week’s Tech Tuesday because it just reduces downforce with a significant reduction in drag. The drag may even increase in some circumstances. A better technique to keep the car out of that troublesome situation is to increase the height of the ride.
The problems Mercedes faced in Jeddah and Bahrain
The teams along with Mercedes are being more disciplined in when and how they manufacture spare components. In essence, the lower downforce wings that could have alleviated their problems in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia were not ready because they were not expected to be needed.
Although the wing used in Jeddah had less downforce than the one used in Bahrain, it was not ready in time for the first race. Even though a lower downforce wing was employed in Jeddah, it was not available because it was still in the manufacturing process at the time.
Despite Albert Park having a stronger downforce track than Jeddah, the rear wing slated to debut this weekend in Melbourne is believed to feature a substantially smaller section main plane than the one used in Jeddah.
However, the alterations to the track layout, particularly the elimination of the original Turn 9-10 chicane (which has been replaced by a flat-out section leading up to the fast chicane), imply that the Australian circuit will be more rewarding for low drag than before. However, not to the same extent as Jeddah.
The aerodynamic changes for Mercedes
Given the higher ride height, they’ve been compelled to race the car with, the Mercedes W13 has been carrying more rear wing than the team would have preferred. Hopefully, this will not be the situation in Melbourne. However, the underlying difficulty of how to fix the porpoising problem remains. This may necessitate a complete floor layout.
The Mercedes has qualified about 0.7s off pole position on average during the two races. Even if we witness a more competitive W13 this weekend, it should only be the first step toward a more completely realized answer.