The small wing details that shows Mercedes is still pushing

While much of the focus of the changes to the Mercedes 2020 car have revolved around its new sidepod arrangement and DAS (Dual Axis Steering), there are some other important details that highlight how aggressive the team is in trying to find performance.

That much became obvious in the second F1 test, as teams moved away from the early focus on reliability and move towards updates that were more about speed.

Mercedes AMG F1 W11 rear wing detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Mercedes AMG F1 W11 rear wing

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Mercedes duly tested a different rear wing pillar arrangement at the second test, opting for a single element, rather than the two elements ordinarily favoured. 

The robust looking pillar is not only mounted to the underside of the wing’s mainplane, but also reaches up to and is merged with the DRS actuator pod, creating a larger central frame that may have some aerodynamic benefits.

Mercedes was not the only team to delve into such intricacies during testing either, with Alfa Romeo having tested a solution that saw its twin swan-neck style mounting pillars increased in height to maximise their aerodynamic effect.

Alfa Romeo Racing C39 rear wing pillar detail comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

New Dog, old Tricks

This configuration is not new ground for Mercedes, as it has opted for a similar solution in recent years, and has even swapped between the two variants depending on the circuit it is visiting and the level of downforce chosen for the rear wing too. 

It has also chosen different ways of mounting the single pillar down the years too, with the favoured option this time around to use a pillar that wraps around the exhaust and then mounts to the top of the crash structure.

Back in 2017 it favoured an approach first introduced by Toro Rosso, whereby the pillar intersected the exhaust.

2018 Single pillar

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Mercedes used both solutions in 2018, with the single pillar arrangement seen here in use at the Azerbaijan GP in combination with a ‘spoon’ shaped wing layout..

2018 Double pillar

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

A double pillar arrangement, utilising the swan-neck style supports was also used during 2018.

2017 Single Pillar and T-Wing combo

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

2017’s challenger featured a single pillar design that, along with the T-Wing, intersected the exhaust to mount to the top of the crash structure.

2015 Toro Rosso centre mount pillar

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Toro Rosso, ever the innovators, was the first to intersect the exhaust with the rear wing pillar. It’s thought that this not only gave packaging advantages but also improved the dispersion of the exhaust plume as it exited the main tailpipe.

Renault R.S.17 illegal rear wing

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

It might be easy to draw the conclusion that you could use a swan-neck support and gain the aerodynamic benefits that come from its use and then simply connect it to the DRS actuator pod to benefit further still. However, an interpretation of this from Renault, back in 2017, set a precedent, with the team having to add a section of bodywork between the pillar and the mainplane to comply with the regulations.

Renaul rear wing with boydwork added to pillar

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Here we can see the bodywork that was added between the pillar and the mainplane in order to comply with the regulations.

Lessons from others…

Mercedes AMG F1 W10 rear wing detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Mercedes introduced a rear wing update at the German GP in 2019, featuring a cluster of solutions to try and improve the trade-off of downforce and drag. 

The sawtooth cutouts in the rear upper corner of the endplates and the rows of upwash strikes beneath them have been retained for 2020 but the team has made a change to the hanging vane arrangement below them.

Mercedes AMG F1 W11 rear wing

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Haas F1 Team VF-19 rear wing detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The arrangement seems to take inspiration from a solution introduced by Haas during 2019, with the first element of the trio of flow conditioning surfaces stretching back behind the two other vanes, both of which have a curved geometry on their lower edge.

The airflow structure created by these is clearly optimised to suit the rest of the Mercedes aerodynamic furniture on the endplate, but it is interesting to see that ideas from others, no matter where from in terms of relative performance, can be used as the basis for improvement.

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