Mercedes ‘ingeniously’ bypass FIA block with new aero component

Mercedes were forced to ditch their experimental front wing at last season’s US Grand Prix.

Towards the end of last season, Mercedes were desperately trying to upgrade the W13 to make it competitive, as the they looked to make a late charge for second place in the constructors’ championship.

While upgrades to the underfloor made a significant difference, an experimental front wing brought to the US Grand Prix never actually made it onto the racetrack.

The wing featured a number of slot gap separators, which are designed to keep the front wing rigid and limit the flexion between the different levels of the wing.

Other teams were concerned that Mercedes were actually attempting to use these separators to redirect airflow, rather than for their intended purpose.

The FIA agreed with these complains and banned the design, forcing Mercedes to ditch their plan.

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The W14 was unveiled this week and to many people’s surprise, it appears to feature a front wing to endplate slot, similar to what was banned last year.

“I was of the impression that the FIA blocked the Mercedes front wing to endplate slot,” wrote one fan on Twitter.

“But they’ve ingeniously connected it – front wing to end plate to keep the concept alive.”

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Ferrari also appear to have adopted this approach, leaving fans to wonder exactly how they are getting away with this banned design.

Mercedes and Ferrari have found a loophole in the regulations as it turns out, after the FIA rewrote the rules surrounding the slot gap separators late last year.

While the number and size of slot gap separators is now limited by the FIA, they are allowed to be on the front wing is there is a genuine structural connection, rather than then clearly only being present for aerodynamic benefits.

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With the slot gap separators on the W14 and SF-23 being connected to the endplate, there is a structural connection via these separators, making them completely legal regardless of their intended purpose.

It is these ingenious pieces of engineering that could give teams like Mercedes the edge over Red Bull, who were relatively unchallenged in 2022.

With both Ferrari and Mercedes exploiting this loophole, it looks very likely that there will be a minimum of a three way title race this season.