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Mercedes MGP W02 - 'F-duct ' front wing 30 October 2011

2012 has well and truly started for Mercedes after the team briefly tested this innovative solution at Suzuka, prompting much discussion over its possible merits in India. Inspired by F-ducts, which were used extensively last season but were outlawed this year, Mercedes have switched the theory from the rear to the front of the car. The little oval hole, which is common in all the nose cones, features a splitter in the middle, thought to direct the airflow through the side pillars of the wing (blue arrows). Mercedes used a similar layout last year with its F-duct, which had little pipes going through the diffuser and the wing endplates. No opening was visible on the flaps, like in the rear wing last year, so the only possible opening was in underside of the main plane section (red arrows). In order for this system to be legal, unlike last year's F-ducts the driver must have no direct control over it, so it must instead be regulated by an amplifier inside the nose cone, coming into effect and stalling the wing to cut drag only under certain airflow conditions. Speculation continues over the exact workings of this Mercedes solution, but the important thing is that it again highlights the ability of F1 engineers to find loopholes in the rules and to produce innovative solutions.