Formula 1 | F1 technique: The secrets of the Mercedes W13

With Nicholas DZ

Mercedes F1 presented a highly anticipated single-seater this Friday at Silverstone. The eight-time world champion team has indeed resumed its silver livery, but it has also lifted the veil on an entirely new chassis, meeting the brand new 2022 technical regulations.

All eyes are on the Brackley team and its ability to give Lewis Hamilton and George Russell a car capable of claiming a ninth constructors’ title and an eighth drivers’ crown. For this, the team has worked on a car that we will analyze in detail.

The front wing of the Mercedes W13

From the front end of this Mercedes, we discover a philosophy totally contrary to that of Ferrari. Where the Scuderia decided to load the front wing of its F1-75 in support, especially in the central part, Mercedes made the opposite choice.

The Mustache has four horizontal planes, like all other single-seaters, but the gap between the first and the second is tiny, and it almost feels like it only has three.

At its center, the car’s mustache tapers down to its center. This is reminiscent of the Vortex Y250 of previous generations, which made it possible to drive out the turbulence caused by the wheels and offer more support by guiding the air with a cape.

Here, it seems above all that Mercedes wanted to guide the flow of air towards the sidepods and the floor, even if it means sacrificing support on the front axle. It is therefore a totally different philosophy from that of Ferrari, which opted for a completely flat front wing over its entire width.

On the side of the nose, which is rather raised, Mercedes has chosen a flat profile, but extends it to the lowest plane of the car. However, the team left plenty of room under the wing for significant airflow.

The front suspensions of the Mercedes W13

Again, the differences with the Ferrari are enormous, since the only common point is a choice of pushrod suspensions. For the rest, the design is very different, especially in the management of the support and in the redirection of the air flow.

Ferrari has chosen a link that is not aligned with the upper wishbone in order to create downforce. Conversely, Mercedes aligns the two and has designed fairly thick and aerodynamic wishbones to guide the air towards the sidepods.

We find a solution of rather classic brake scoops with modest air intakes but clearly protruding from the fairing. Once again, the cooling does not seem to be a concern in terms of the brakes, although the shakedown carried out at Silverstone in the rain and in cold weather helped in this regard.

The deflectors and sidepods of the Mercedes of 2022

The sidepods of the Mercedes W13 are reminiscent of the Aston Martin AMR22 and its square air inlets. As on the AMR22, the sidepods seem to make the most of the volumes allowed by the regulations, even if they don’t go as far forward.

The fact that these air intakes are a little further back has the effect of increasing their size compared to other cars, and this explains the beveled shape around the air intakes. The second effect is to make the deflectors prominent.

These lead precisely to the floor and we can clearly see the different vertical wings that lead to these air ducts under the car. We can also see that on the W13, this part is larger than on the other F1s.

As a result, the flat bottom under the pontoons is angled, and it sports many twisted shapes with waves to guide air to the lower part of the pontoons. Above, the sidepods are thin at their entry and have vertical fins on the outside, again in order to guide the air towards the rear of the car.

We see that Mercedes has not opted for pontoons as extreme as teams like Ferrari or Aston Martin, with a shape reminiscent of last year. One can easily imagine that the radiators are inclined diagonally in the front part of the pontoons.

Mercedes has reduced the width of the sidepods to the engine cover as much as possible, the power unit being integrated into the shoehorn under the bodywork. This can be seen in particular in the way in which they reduce in width just after the part in front.

Mercedes has not opted for air circulation as guided as some cars, but keeps a concept that limits drag. It is not up to the pontoons to serve as hot air evacuation, as is the case on the Aston Martin, the Ferrari or the Alfa Romeo.

The bonnet of the Mercedes W13

Under the bonnet, the wavy shapes continue to the edges of the floor. We see Mercedes’ desire to send as much air as possible to the rear suspensions, and to the rear wing.

The engine cover begins with an air intake of enormous size, in particular compared to that of the Ferrari. It incorporates structural protection above the pilot, triangular in shape.

This air inlet feeds the turbo and also serves to cool the engine. Around this air inlet, the hood is reduced in size. Mercedes takes advantage of the Halo to hollow out the hood behind the driver, and the hood only gets thinner from there.

The floor is also very sculpted to go up towards the rear suspensions. Like other single-seaters, the Mercedes sports a shark fin that starts from the back of the airbox, and ends just in front of the wing mast.

Under this mast, the engine cover of the Mercedes remains a bit wide. This is the consequence of the absence of gills on the pontoons, since there is a large opening at the rear to evacuate the hot air, like what we saw on the single-seaters old. This will allow the team to adapt the size of this space in case of high temperatures.

The diffuser and the rear wing of the Mercedes W13

Mercedes retains tie-rod suspensions at the rear, under a very massive rear spoiler. Indeed, unlike the Ferrari F1-75, whose rear wing ends are much thinner, Mercedes has installed a much wider wing.

The support seems important with a sculpted lower plane. The DRS fin, in the closed position, seems particularly raised. This is certainly what will allow the rear axle to sit on the track, in addition to a center of gravity which should be very low at this point.

The fin stands on a single mast, overhung by the DRS activation system. From what little we’ve seen of the broadcaster, it seems pretty standard for now.