Mercedes F1 W03 - 'F-duct' rear wing 19 March 2012
This is the development that had some of Mercedes' rivals up in arms in Australia, and which could yet cause controversy in Malaysia next weekend. Here we can see the hole in the rear-wing endplate (purple arrow) that is exposed when the DRS is activated (inset, red arrow). Beyond that, the exact workings of the system are speculation. The most complex theory is that when the holes are 'opened', air is sucked into channels in the endplates and routed via thin pipes down to the beam wing and then all the way through the chassis until it reaches the nosecone. There it is channelled down through the two front-wing pillars to the front-wing flaps, where it is released, stalling the wing in F-duct fashion, cutting drag and boosting top speed. It is effectively the same F-duct system used by the team two years ago (with air flowing from the nose, through the chassis, to the rear wing), but in reverse. In simple terms, it acts as a front-flap adjuster, reducing drag and downforce at the front of the car, balancing it with the loss of drag provided by the DRS at the rear. A far simpler theory is that the system acts like an F duct, but purely on the rear wing. Either way, the grey areas in terms of legality are whether it is considered to be passive in its operation (legal) or driver operated (not legal), and whether it is acceptable for the driver-operated DRS mechanism to have such a secondary function. Red Bull and Lotus have requested clarification from the FIA and hope to have it before the Sepang weekend.