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F1 ANALYSIS: What we can expect from the Mercedes W14B upgrades and how they work

F1 ANALYSIS: What we can expect from the Mercedes W14B upgrades and how they work

F1 News

F1 ANALYSIS: What we can expect from the Mercedes W14B upgrades and how they work

F1 ANALYSIS: What we can expect from the Mercedes W14B upgrades and how they work
Shubham Sangodkar

The W14B has arrived! And with it has brought four months of relentless hard work from the Brackley outfit in its attempt to understand the wide-sidepod aero philosophy.

As expected from Mercedes, this is not a simple copy-paste job, it has some novel features of its own and some inspirations from the rest of the grid. Let us dive into this article to understand what Mercedes has been up to.

Mercedes have made dramatic alterations to the W14 ahead of the Monaco GP

Suspension Layout

Mercedes have brought a new anti-dive front suspension as part of their update package. This setup as the name suggests reduces the dive of the front end of the car upon braking. Why is this important? Because F1 cars with the new regulations are highly sensitive to floor heights, by adopting an anti-dive setup you can run a lower front ride height and because the variation of the front floor height is reduced the car is more predictable going into corners.

The Mercedes drivers have been complaining about the predictability of the front end of the W14, it will be interesting to see if the W14B cures it to some extent.

So why did Mercedes not start with the anti-dive suspension layout to begin with?

An anti-dive geometry stops the front wheels from deflecting vertically or going into a bump state under braking, this means due to lack of load transfer you are more prone to front locking, and it probably feels odd to the drivers as the car doesn't dive when they hit the brakes. This results in the drivers having very little dynamic feedback under braking, leaving them feeling only the G forces from the deceleration.

This characteristic can be difficult to drive and also difficult to anticipate reaching the limits of grip under braking. Hence, the way Mercedes drivers drive will have to change slightly moving to a more anti-dive suspension and it will be interesting to see who gets to grip faster, Hamilton or Russell.

Aerodynamics also has its say

Don't forget the aerodynamic aspect of the front suspension. The front suspension is the bridge between the front wing and the floor and sidepods. Hence, if the floor and sidepod philosophy changes it is obvious that the suspension members can also be optimised to deliver the desired flowfield rearwards. This might be Mercedes tackling two challenges with a single solution.

READ MORE: F1 ANALYSIS: Why Mercedes have made radical changes to the W14

The differing suspension setups on the Mercedes W14 and W14B - Image from


The most awaited sidepod changes on the W14 are here. However, as we suggested in our previous article 'Why Mercedes are bringing the W14B' Mercedes, have brought their own flavour to the F1 circus.

In addition to the usual undercut with wide sidepods resulting in improved front-wheel wake management and forward floor feeding, Mercedes have combined their existing SIS (Side Impact Structure) wing a.k.a i'Midwing' with their wide sidepods.

The wide sidepod also features a vertical cascaded winglet (a nice loophole) which acts like a mini bargeboard (yes they are back) further assisting the outwash philosophy around which the wide sidepods are based. On the upper face, the sidepods look a bit like the Alpine/McLaren with their down-washing gulleys feeding air over the diffuser towards the beam wing albeit not as aggressively as Aston Martin yet.

The vertical mini bargeboard (cascaded wing) is probably the most interesting aero bit which is novel. This will result in two vortex systems, one from the 'midwing' and one from the mini bargeboard.

Both of these vortices would combine with the mini bargeboard vortex being the driving one. The close proximity of the sidepod wall would make the vortex travel vertically lower as it moves downstream which might be a mechanism to push the air in the mousehole - rear tyre squirt area to energise the diffuser and manage the rear tyre squish.

However, how consistent this mechanism will be under different dynamic conditions is another question altogether.

The wide sidepod also features a vertical cascaded winglet which acts like a mini bargeboard


The new floor on the W14B externally also has some interesting details. It has a double reflex on the G-line (green), which is the junction between the sidepods and the floor. This reflex on the G-line is usually carefully controlled to decide the required pressure gradients to obtain the most optimised outwash distribution along the floor edge depending on the respective team's underfloor design philosophy which we often don't get to see.

In addition to that the new floor edge wing (Orange) is now a huge element running almost the entire length of the floor edge as shown in the figure. We have seen other teams maximize this length, most notably Red Bull. The floor edge wing has two important benefits. It allows air from the top of the floor (higher pressure ) to seep underneath with an out-washing vector. This not only generates local load ( ~15-20 points ) but also restricts the eventual inwash from the floor edge tip vortex creating a mini-skirt effect, thus allowing the floor to work harder.

In addition to that Mercedes has also cheekily sneaked in a vortex generator on top of the floor. How can they do that compared to everyone else? As pointed out by @dr.obbs on Twitter, it looks like because the chassis was made slim to assist the zero sidepod concept, Mercedes was not filling a regulation volume which is dedicated to mid-chassis.

This regulation volume has no regulations to it and thus Mercedes were able to fit in a cheeky vortex generator. This vortex generator would cast off a vortex which would assist in generating outwash on top of the floor. This outwash would be useful for managing the lower tyre wheel wake downstream and improve extraction from the front floor.

READ MORE: F1 ANALYSIS: Red Bull's secret top speed weapon revealed

Mercedes has also sneaked in a vortex generator on top of the floor - Original image: @automotor and sport

Don’t expect miracles at Monaco

This is a complete overall of the car, from both a mechanical and an aerodynamic perspective. This would mean that the way the drivers drive the car and the team run the car would be very different to what they’ve been doing until now.

Chances are they will split the setup directions between Hamilton and Russel to get an understanding of the car. Additionally, Monaco being a street circuit, bumpy and runs being constantly interrupted due to traffic will mean the data that Mercedes gathers itself will not be very clean, but at least the drivers will get a feel for the car.

Shubham Sangodkar is a former F1 Aerodynamicist with a Master's in Racing Car Design specialising in F1 Aerodynamics and F1 Data Analysis. He also posts aerodynamics content on his YouTube channel, which can be found here.

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