Technical Mercedes GP reinvent F-duct for the Front Wing?


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I have started to see reports emerge regarding Mercedes GP testing a Front Wing that uses an innovative new way of blowing the front-wing to gain better straight-line speed or downforce in different circumstances.

The Rear Wing style F-duct was obviously banned in the regulations for 2011, but the passive Front Wing version that Mercedes GP are working on seems to be legitimate and will pass the 2012 regulations.

The article in German is here:-

Google translate gives me this in English:-

It has a picture there of the Front Wing and air flow and trys to explain what is the purpose and benefits. Interestingly Martin Whitmarsh has also been quoted as noticing it but as saying the concept is massively complicated and even starting to look at it now could be to late for 2012. What it does suggest is that if Mercedes have got way ahead of the pack on this then it won't be something that other teams will be able to catch up on during the season. I imagine all other teams will now be looking at this particular innovation.

ScarbsF1 is looking into the possibility of a front wing F-duct and the benefits of it so im keeping up to date with his twitter and blog.

For those of you who don't know Scarbs, he recently made a blog analysing the possibility of a flexible T-Tray splitter (see-saw solution), widely believed to be ran by Red Bull based on pictures of Webber's under-floor seen at Monza. This blog was mentioned during the BBC coverage at Korea and it has actually caused Charlie Whiting to make a technical directive to all the teams saying that if anyone is running that solution, then it is illegal and they will be making a new scrutineeing test for the area. The reason people believe Red Bull are using this solutions is due to the skid/wear marks on the floor that are quite unusual and abnormal and only the see-saw splitter would give wear of that type.

Anyway I just thought you guys might be interested in this latest technical innovation. I don't really understand too much about it yet, but it's certainly interesting.
That looks really complicated... It's also surprising that if they do indeed have this system that they aren't challenging the McLarens and Red Bulls. Wouldn't surprise me if someone happend to knock a Mercedes front wing off in India in order to get a quick sneak peak...
It does look complicated indeed, but even then, why are Mercedes keen to show it this season? Now probably every team down the paddock knows and will try to copy it and make it better.
Hmm, the front wing's contribution to drag is tiny compared to the rear wing. Difficult to see how this could be a make-or-break development, and getting the airflow reattached in between activations might be a couple of years' work in itself.
Maybe it's an elaborate double bluff and they want everyone else to go off and try and invent the same, spending millions and achieving nothing.
Mercedes tried a novel airbox concept last season, and reverted to a more traditional solution this year. Renault tried a front exit exhaust this season, and have stated this as a reason for their poor performance. McLaren tried a dropping front wing.

I think one reason that this may work is if it can speed up the airflow under the car, or increase the volume of air. As has already been stated, the majority of the effect of the front wing is "for free" as it simply takes advantage of the air which would otherwise flow around the wheels and create masses of drag with no benefit. Stalling the front wing may have an advantage in terms of slowing air over the car, however, I am unsure of Mercedes ability to get this to fully realise potential benefits. It certainly seems to be a lot of time and effort to get right, and bearing in mind the performance of the car this year, there are other areas which for the same input might yield a better output.

That said, I will be willing to take all of this back if the car is fast out of the blocks next year, but this just seems like ein nutzloser Besitz
Here's a thought, when they're at full throttle, the pedal covers a hole the in monocoque(sp), and diverts flow into the wing ducting - This may well have been legislated out after the f-duct though. Although I'm not sure you'd want to stall the front wing, if they're going for continuous 'free' downforce then it may actually be legal.

My money's on 'ruse'
If it wasnt a double bluff why would they want the media on it? and I love how everyone still calls it the f-duct the real name is actually the RW80!
Front wing F-duct:

This is quite fascinating. As a passive design feature the way this will work is by utilising the difference in effectiveness of the wing at conferring down-force at low and high speeds. Although the front wing is also designed to direct airflow around the tyres and sides of the chassis the Mercedes front wing F-duct solution appears from the drawings to be designed to stall the front wings effectiveness with regard to airflow over and under the car.

In principle, at low speeds the device will have little effect as the airflow through the device and across the wing will be orders of magnitude less than at high speed. Consequently, the down-force conferred by the wing at lower speeds could be regarded as “baseline” with the wing adjusted to maximise down-force at low speeds.

When a front wing is set up for a very high front down-force the rear wing will also be set for a higher than optimal down-force setting as well, since gross differences between the two wing set ups would result in a seriously unbalanced car. In other words, high down-force at the front and low at the rear equals masses of over-steer coupled with low grip and dismal traction at the rear. Conversely a set up with low front down-force coupled with high rear down-force leads to a “light” front end with gross under-steer and lack of front end grip as well as reduced front end stability at high speed.

The penalty of a high down-force yet balanced set up is high drag overall (front and rear) at speed since the effect of down-force squares with speed. In other, words there is an exponential increase in drag as the speed of the car increases. This affects both acceleration and attainable top speed. It might go round corners like it's on rails but it will be a slug on the straights.

When setting up a car for a race there has to be a compromise between having a level of down-force that suits the characteristics of the corners in a circuit whilst optimising the top speeds for the straights.The trick is in balancing out the settings to give just the right amount of wing at the rear to optimise rear end grip and traction yet have enough front wing to get as close as possible to a neutral situation with regard to under or over steer.

At Monza for example we have the long straight from Curva Parabolica down to Variante Del Rettifilio and another straight (ish) section from the Lesmo's to Variante Ascari. There is also the challenge of the Curva Grande, a long but very fast right hander. Too much downforce and the car is slow down the straight but good for the slow corners and chicanes. Too little and the car will wash out around Vurva Grande and the Curva Parabolica but good for high top speed on the straights. With settings just right for all the corners the car will be average on the straights!

In a perfect world, the balance and downforce levels are optimised so that the car will be fast throughout the whole lap. Unfortunately for the engineers everything is a compromise. For a given track they seek as high an angle setting on the front wing (that ordinarily needs a correspondingly high setting on the rear wing) to cope with the range of corners but not so high as to cripple top speed. If you can achieve higher settings up front but have the front downforce stalled at higher speeds, in theory the rear wing can be flatter than usual thereby reducing overall drag.

So, what the front wing F-duct does is give you a way to achieve a higher top speed with a higher downforce setting at the front end but lower (than usual) setting at the rear. The faster the car goes the more effect the F-duct has on stalling the front wing allowing faster airflow and less drag at the front and in tandem with the lower downforce setting at the rear, less drag overall. The net result should be the ability to more closely tune the set up of the car for a whole lap with a lot less compromising going on between the demands of the corners and having good speed for the straights.

Like the original rear wing F-duct, it is actually a fairly simple and elegant solution. Yes, the ducting might look complicated but it is only the routing of the duct that makes it look that way. The only difficult bit is in calculating dimensions of the ducts, air inlet in the nose and the outlet slots on the front edge of the wing. With current Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and Computer Aided Design (CAD) it's no sweat for computers to do the work with the result tested in the wind tunnel. It would be interesting to know if it was actually used at Monza since Michael's speed left Hamilton's McLaren for dead on the straights - although it didn't actually seem very good in the corners. More tweaking necessary, perhaps.
Not strictly related to the F-duct but Brawn is also concerned about possible loopholes for next years exhaust regulations. If you ask me he should keep schtum and get a march on the competition so he can show Stuttgart that their money isn't being wasted.
Correction to my previous post. In describing the outlet slots in the front wing I said they were located "...on the front edge of the wing." The eagle eyed will have noticed that they are located in the top of the wing more or less in-line with the leading edge of the wing pillars (supports). Sorry, about that. That's what happens when I'm posting but should be asleep in bed.:embarrassed:
Autosport have a take on the Mercedes Front wing F-duct suggesting that the slots are underneath the wing to boost airflow under the car to the diffuser which would give more ground effect induced down-force. Scarb's discusses this and the issues of balancing the car's centre of pressure - with regard to the down-force imparted by front and rear wings.

It wouldn't surprise me if Mercedes were experimenting with both the stalling of the front wing and the ground effect configurations. Personally, if I were in their shoes I would be trying the solutions individually in the first instance but with a view to eventually having a duct system combining the two effects since they could be complimentary. Increased ground effect would compensate for reduced wing-generated aerodynamic down-force enabling higher top speeds whilst maintaining cornering grip and agility. In addition, the car could possibly carry more wing, with comparatively higher levels of down-force, for tighter circuits like Hungary.

It will be interesting to see if Scarb's, Autosport, AMuS and Auto Sprint continue to explore the "either / or" scenarios when trying to figure out what Mercedes is up to, or if they pick up on the possibility of the "holistic" approach.

Could Rooters' Fenderman have got ahead of the news for a change? Crikey!:thinking: Even more of a shock would be if Mercedes haven't been exploring the 'front-wing stall / ground-effect boost' combo'! :o
It's interesting that nobody seems entirely sure on what they're doing, yet.

I can't help feeling, though, that if it was a big deal, they wouldn't have run it in a practice session this season - it would have been saved for the Abu Dhabi test, or next February.

Even money says we never see it again.
I'm not a betting man, but I can't see how 0they could resist. If I were to put money on anything it would be that Adrian Newey and his chaps are cranking up their CAD/CFD kit as we 'speak'.:)
It's interesting that nobody seems entirely sure on what they're doing, yet.

I can't help feeling, though, that if it was a big deal, they wouldn't have run it in a practice session this season - it would have been saved for the Abu Dhabi test, or next February.

Even money says we never see it again.

well as Martin Whitmarsh claimed, it's already too late to copy it for the start of next season. So if it's really that good an upgrade, Ross Brawn and co knew what they were doing debuting it now. With F1 budgets being limited now, I don't think teams would bother wasting money on a bluff.
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