Mercedes not only presented a new black livery in Austria this weekend, but also several small aerodynamic tweaks to its W11.
The black livery helps to conceal the small aerodynamic differences – which is a small bonus of having an all-black paint job, but those with a technical eye can still spot what’s changed.
The main differences concern the rear wing, decidedly low-to-medium downforce, to take advantage of greater speed on the straights of the Red Bull Ring circuit.
The new rear wing has a reduced rope and less protruding main plane to reduce drag. The DRS flap has a flat/horizontal surface in the central area of the wing, unlike the smooth curve (swan neck) seen during testing. All of this has the purpose of reducing the forward resistance of the W11 and maximising the wake effect when the DRS is activated.
Mercedes has also chosen to use a single support pillar, which incorporates the central drain in the lower part. In the winter tests Mercedes had tried two rear wing solutions, with two support pillars, and with a single mast. For Austria, the choice fell on the single pylon solution, which may be circuit specific as a medium downforce circuit like the Red Bull Ring will apply less pressure to the rear wing
Small changes have also been made to the endplate of the rear wing. Last season they ran just two ‘blowholes’, but then moved up to three towards the middle of the championship. This choice was also taken up on the Mercedes W11, and compared to Australia the elements have been slightly revised to improve the management of the vortices coming from the rotation of the rear tyres.
Finally, another small change that has not gone unnoticed concerns the support pylon of the rear-view mirrors. In the area in which it adheres to the frame it now has a more square and less connected shape compared to the pre-season tests in Barcelona.
In Austria, Mercedes also brought changes to the diffuser in the outermost area, that is, the most critical area for the management of air vortices. The new updated Power Unit should also debut, which suffered many problems during testing, where the team and its customers saw multiple mechanical issues due to incorrect lubrication of the internal components.