TECH TUESDAY: Understanding Mercedes' major Miami Grand Prix upgrade package
Miami may not have been Mercedes’ most successful weekend, but the Silver Arrows did bring a host of new parts to their recalcitrant W13. Mark Hughes examines those new parts and their effect, while Giorgio Piola provides technical illustrations.
In what was a confusing Miami weekend for the team, Mercedes introduced a three-part aerodynamic upgrade for their so-far troublesome W13.
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These were not designed as specific responses to the car’s widely reported porpoising problems. Rather, two of the three changes were a more tailored low-downforce package and a third was a general upgrade which is expected to remain on the car even on higher-downforce tracks.
Looking first at the low-downforce part of the package, there was a new rear wing and associated beam wing. The upper wing featured a mainplane (the lower part of the wing) with a much smaller area and a straight leading edge. This was designed in conjunction with a beam wing that featured a much smaller upper element.
The beam wing directs airflow from the lower part of the car to the underside of the mainplane above it, helping to work the wing harder. The harder the wing works in producing downforce, the more drag will tend to be induced. In both the mainplane’s smaller area and the beam wing’s smaller upper element, reducing the drag has taken priority over maximising downforce.
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Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin gave further detail: “At previous low-drag tracks this year we just trimmed our existing wing away. But this one is specifically designed for this level of downforce. Also, when we re-made them, we have made them lighter, helping us get more weight out of the car.”
Like most 2022 cars, the W13 is over the minimum weight limit and the diet is ongoing.
But arguably of more interest than the low-downforce package was the new front wing endplate which featured a fairly radical re-fashioning of the slots at the lower edge which channel airflow from the wing elements out through the sides, out-washing around the tyre.
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The whole rear bottom corner of the endplate had been cut away diagonally to reveal more of the wing elements, allowing those elements to divert a greater quantity of air outwards. A small cut-out in the extreme outboard end of the wing’s top element appears to be a vortex generator, helping give that diverted airflow greater energy.
The more powerful the outwash, the cleaner the airflow should be to the underfloor and along the car’s sidepods. Finding alternative ways to increase the power of the outwash now that the bargeboards have been eliminated by the regulations is a major concern to all the teams and Mercedes appear to have found a highly inventive interpretation of the new regulations regarding endplate design.