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Tech review - Mercedes suspension in Singapore spotlight

20 Sep 2016

It may be relatively late in the season, but teams continue to bring changes to their current cars - though it was one slightly older modification that was the talk of the technically minded at the 2016 Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix...

Mercedes F1 W07 Hybrid - front suspension packaging

Be it due to possible correspondence between rival teams and the FIA, or simply specialist media speculation, Mercedes’ front suspension was in the spotlight again in Singapore - even though it’s a layout first seen at the Chinese round earlier in the season. The talking point was the packaging of the team's innovative, hydraulic third suspension element (inset, above), housed transversely in the upper chassis bulkhead, which facilitates better control of ride height and roll.

Mercedes have pushed the regulations to the limit here, cleverly utilizing both a dimensional allowance added last year so that Manor (then Marussia) could use an adapted version of their previous season’s car, and the familiar vanity panel (see drawing above) on top of the chassis - originally introduced to cars in 2013 to smooth out the infamous ‘stepped’ noses. This aggressive interpretation of the rule book has allowed the world champions to house their complex suspension componentry - and critically the access needed to adjust it - high in the chassis, whilst still respecting the regulations on chassis height. Other teams have a third suspension element (though few are hydraulic) and most still use a vanity panel for suspension access, but none has been so extreme in their design philosophy.

Interestingly, since the Hungarian round in July, Mercedes have also placed a cover (right arrow, above) on top of the hydraulic damper, effectively hiding it from view when the vanity panel is removed. (The left arrow shows the pipes used to check the pressure in the braking system.)