Mercedes’ Front Wing Challenges Conventional Design

We investigate with a detailed examination of Mercedes' distinctive, and potentially contentious, front wing configuration.


By Ben Bush
Published on February 21, 2024

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W15. 2024 Formula 1 Testing, Sakhir
George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W15. Formula 1 Testing, Sakhir

The unveiling of the Mercedes W15’s front wing has drawn widespread attention from the F1 paddock during the initial phase of pre-season testing in Bahrain.

The design of Mercedes’ F1 front wing is being closely analysed, with debates arising over its conformity to FIA regulations and whether it embodies the “spirit of the regulations”.

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As F1 pre-season testing progresses in Bahrain, more detailed images of the Mercedes front wing have been made available.

Featuring three flaps, the Mercedes front wing integrates an upper flap linked to the nose through a slender carbon fibre piece.

This configuration, connecting two flaps directly to the nose, aims to replicate the ‘Y250 vortex’ effect, a phenomenon associated with the previous generation of front wings (before 2022), enhancing downforce.

The FIA is anticipated to scrutinise whether this innovative design aligns with the current regulations intended to facilitate overtaking and competitive racing.

During the F1 testing broadcast, technical analyst Sam Collins highlighted the distinct aspects of Mercedes’ unconventional design compared to the traditional approach employed by Sauber.

“What Mercedes have done is really clever here is they’ve got this outer element, the upper blade of the four bits of the front wing,” he said. “It’s just essentially a wire is only there to meet the regulations saying that all those blades and elements have to be continuous all of the way through the entire front wing structure without gaps or limitations or slots that we used to see.

“Mercedes decided they wanted to have an old front wing. Looking at the Sauber, the upper element, the top blade of the front wing, that’s what everyone thought the rules should be but if you look at the outer end, there’s just a tiny bit of a linkage at the endplate.

“That little black section keeps that legal. Mercedes has taken that concept, flipped on its head and cut away that whole inner section of the front wing.

Collins doesn’t think that teams will be able to easily copy the design given how integral the front wing is in terms of interacting with the rest of the car.

“It’s something every team up and down the pit lane will be scurrying off into the wind tunnel to take a really close look at what the team is trying to do,” he added.

“It’s not something you can just copy – it has a massive impact on all of the rest of the car.”

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About The Author

Chief Editor

Ben Bush

Ben is our chief editor specialising in F1 from the 1990s to the modern era. Ben has been following Formula 1 since 1986 and is an avid researcher who loves understanding the technology that makes it one of the most exciting motorsport on the planet. He listens to podcasts about F1 on a daily basis, and enjoys reading books from the inspirational Adrian Newey to former F1 drivers.

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