© Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

“The Vehicle is Purpose­fully Designed”

The Mercedes-AMG F1 W08 EQ Power+, the all-new Formula One car from Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motor­sport, features clearly visible changes that opti­mize its aero­dy­namics. Dr. Bruno Lindl, Managing Director of Research and Devel­op­ment at the ebm-papst Group, a passionate pilot and aero­dy­namics expert, takes a closer look at the details.

Dr. Bruno Lindl, Managing Director of Research and Devel­op­ment at the ebm-papst Group

“Due to the new rules for the 2017 season, at first glance the W08 EQ Power+ looks like it has changed dramat­i­cally: lower, broader and more aggres­sive looking. The barge­boards in front of the side pods, the swept­back front wing and lower rear wing with the lean auxil­iary fin all stand out.
To assess these features from an aero­dy­namics view­point, of course you have to consider the general func­tion of aero­dy­namic design. But you also have to be aware of the extent to which you can judge them from the outside – without looking at the results of simu­la­tions and measure­ments.

The basic prin­ciple of aero­dy­namics

The swept­back front wing creates higher toler­ance for the turbu­lence. (Photo | Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.)

Like with every other racecar the W08 EQ Power+ was designed to reduce the vehicle’s drag to a minimum, opti­mize the motor output for the track and ensure as much trac­tion as possible. At high speeds, the vehicle’s weight alone is not enough. This is why Formula One® teams use compo­nents from fluid mechanics to prevent the drive wheels from spin­ning or main­tain the lateral forces when the driver is steering. These compo­nents mini­mize the impact of turbu­lence from the car’s own front wheels or the vehi­cles in front.

Three key vehicle areas

The W08 EQ Power+ is lower and so its center of gravity is simi­larly lowered. This signif­i­cantly improves trac­tion, espe­cially at high-speed corners. However, the car’s geometric design can only be under­stood when taken as a whole: the vehicle is purpose­fully designed. The shape of the nose and the front wing has much of a direct effect on the airflow around the rest of the W08 EQ Power+ as the tyres and chassis do.

The lower rear wing with the lean auxil­iary fin (Photo | Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.)

In general, the main task of the front wing is to create higher toler­ance for the turbu­lence gener­ated by the car itself or other cars. The front wing prevents air currents from getting under­neath the vehicle and lifting it – espe­cially in corners. Since the car’s weight is not much of a factor here, aero­dy­namic solu­tions are espe­cially impor­tant. The rear wing on the contrary ensures the greatest contact force possible on the rear axle so the horse­power is opti­mally trans­mitted to the track. It supports the weight of the motor.

Last season, the space in front of the side pods had to remain empty. Now the W08 EQ Power+ has a multi-level barge­board containing several air baffles. These fluid mechanics compo­nents do a great job at preventing turbu­lence from getting under­neath the vehicle, giving it even more stability.

Season with many advanced devel­op­ments

The multi-level barge­board containing several air baffles (Photo | Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.)

Formula OneTM never stands still and Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motor­sport empha­sizes that the advanced devel­op­ments in the course of the season will play a more impor­tant role in the outcome of the World Cham­pi­onship than they did in previous years. This is because of the regu­la­tion changes and that teams will not be certain if their devel­op­ment and simu­la­tions are based on reality until the car performs on the track. However, this season one factor is making things more diffi­cult: since the new rules permit greater freedom, it is not easy to predict what the turbu­lence in front of the vehicle will look like. The shape of a car deter­mines the wake of turbu­lent air that each vehicle leaves behind. And the shape of the W08 EQ Power+ must be adapted to the others’ wakes.

As an expe­ri­enced pilot, I know that three minutes should elapse between airplane land­ings since the turbu­lence gener­ated during landing acts as an obstacle to the following plane and can even become dangerous. Formula OneTM cars have to master similar situ­a­tions.”

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