In Belgium Mercedes has introduced a very substantial package of updates, continuing the relentless development of its W11, otherwise known as the quickest F1 car in history as Lewis Hamilton smashed the lap record during qualifying.
In terms of downforce, Mercedes has brought with it the same rear wings it used at the Austrian and British rounds, with the single pylon supporting a fairly neutral main profile. The final raced version must provide the right balance for Spa’s very different sectors.
In the illustration below we can see two different rear wing configurations used in this half of the season, with the high downforce wing featuring the double pylon, while the medium-low load wing (brought to Spa, and used in Styria and Silverstone) has a single support that wraps around the exhaust in the lower part.
The real technical innovations introduced this weekend on the W11 concern the winglets, bargeboards and floor, which work in unison in the management of airflows.
Mercedes has added a new pair of winglets to the nose (situated near the S-duct). They have a slightly different shape to those lower down the nose, with the aim of directing the airflow downwards to the bargeboards.
The bargeboards have also been updated for Spa, with a different shape in the leading edge of the large main flow diverter, and in the many “knives” of the sidewalk. The “venetian” flow diverters go from five to four distinct elements, with the addition of a new aerodynamic element that anchors to the floor. Mercedes’ intent is to look for a different management of airflow.
Combined with the bargeboards, work has been done to the vortex generators in the central and terminal area of the floor. The vortex generators are very similar to those we have already seen on the Red Bull RB16, and they help to reduce the deflection of flows beyond the rear wheels, to reduce the harmful aerodynamic effect generated by the rolling of the tyres.