FIA ban Mercedes ‘masquerading’ upgrade after rivals protest

Mercedes’ inventive front wing upgrade will not be run this weekend after the loophole they attempted to exploit was questioned by other teams.

Mercedes have once again thought well outside the box ahead of the 2022 US Grand Prix, with their front wing upgrade half perplexing, half enraging the other teams in the paddock.

The German outfit are one of only three teams to bring upgrades to their car to the USA, alongside Alpine and Alpha Romeo, who have both elected to update their floor.

Mercedes have decided to take advantage of the slot gap separators in the front wing, designed to help keep a consistent distance between the wing flaps, by adding a lot more and using it to their advantage.

Toto Wolff’s team have added these separators to the W13, supposedly with the aim of manipulating air flow, with the rules stating you can equip as many of these separators as necessary.

READ: Race director sacked by the FIA ahead of 2022 US Grand Prix

Mercedes only had one of these wings available, alongside floor and rear wing upgrades, available for this weekend but decided not to use them in practice amidst fears that the FIA would see an issue with their inventive idea.

“You’re allowed to have these slot gap separators,” pundit Ted Kravitz said.

“Now what you’re not allowed is any of the old front wing furniture that used to direct air flow in any direction you wanted to put it.

“The other teams have said ‘okay look, I know what you’re saying. You’re saying that these are basically slot gap separators. But clearly they’re slot gap separators which are masquerading as air flow conditioners around the front to create an outwash.”

Article continues below

“Well it’s obvious what they want the air to do,” Kravitz concluded.

Despite not using this front wing Lewis Hamilton went third fastest in FP1, with teammate George Russell finishing in P7.

READ: 21% of fans think Max Verstappen will win 8 world championships

Mercedes are hoping for a strong weekend with the rear wing and floor upgrades they have brought to the USA, with the aim of refining the front wing idea for the Mexican Grand Prix.

“The FIA would not have approved the wing in this form,” reported Auto Motor und Sport.

“From the point of view of the control experts, the separators have turned out to be too large.”

Lewis Hamilton also remains positive following the practice sessions, with the free practice standings showing that Mercedes look competitive this weekend.

“It doesn’t feel like we’re too far away from everyone,” he said optimistically follow Friday’s practice sessions.