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GP Week : Issue 233
TECHNICAL DEvELOPMENTS AND FALSE TRAILS TecHNIcAL PAOLO FILISETTI Technical Editor In Formula 1 the fight against time is not just crucial on track. even more importantly, at the factory, where the cars development is centred, not only focused on the short term but also on the longer one, design has to be planned well before the actual manufacturing time of the various parts. In season testing being banned means that now teams have to use part of the practice sessions at the races to test new parts. With both the world titles already assigned, it is common behaviour to start testing new parts for the next season – at the same time of course trying not to reveal too early too many details to the opponents. It is so tricky to do this that the teams use some tricks to confuse their rivals to make it difficult for them to understand the real paths taken in the next year’s project. Sometimes this is even clearer when there are some changes required to the physical look of the car, mainly due to the fact that some elements will have a different allocation within its structure. This was the case of Mercedes this weekend where they introduced a modified suspension cover, in order to hide new elements of the 2016 front suspension. The team also continued in its development process for 2016, sporting a clearly visible bodywork addition on the top of the chassis, including a rectangular vent. This mimicked an S- Duct as sported by Red Bull. The close similarity to this device led some people in the wrong direction. Some thought it was a new aero element, with the target of managing the airflow passing under the nose of the car, as was the case for Red Bull. We directly quizzed some of the Mercedes team technical staff, and the answers we got were far too foggy, aimed at creating even more confusion. In fact they left us doubting whether the new air vent and cover on top of the chassis was actually an S-duct following the same principle of the Red Bull one, or something different. In the end we came to the conclusion it was just something that was put on the car to hide the actual development. The ‘duct’ in fact became more and more a clear idea in terms of being a sort of cover, hiding the new 2016 inner suspension elements. It appeared clear to us that the bulges that appeared on the top of the chassis, beside the S-duct vent, were in fact due to the fact that new rockers and additional third horizontal element were part of the new suspension. The third element, in fact, plays a pivotal role in terms of splitting pitch from roll in such a way to keep the front ends of the car sharper. In a few words, the front end should be more precise at the corner entry and additional mechanical grip would be provided, thanks to the reduced phenomenon of pumping, meaning the oscillation process of the front of the car, under braking. This, in fact, has been one of the weak spots of this very competitive car during the season. A negative side effect is an increased height of the centre of gravity due to the placement of some suspension elements higher inside the chassis. The circuit at Interlagos, due to its particular layout where beside fast corners there is an array of tight ones with huge altimetry differences, was the ideal test bench for such a solution. Mercedes carried out the test during the first free practice session on Friday morning, then reverted to the standard configuration of the front suspension for the remainder of the week end. This test made it clear how Mercedes think. They are not relying on the success they have just had; instead they are preparing to fight at the highest level with Ferrari next season. 33 GPWEEK.com // 33 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> BRAZIL PARTNERS: