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  1. #1
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    Mercedes Formula 1 W03 - 'F-duct' rear wing explained

    Click here to enlarge

    This is the development that had some of Mercedes' rivals up in arms in Australia, and which could yet cause controversy in Malaysia next weekend.
    Here we can see the hole in the rear-wing endplate (purple arrow) that is exposed when the DRS is activated (inset, red arrow).

    Beyond that, the exact workings of the system are speculation.
    The most complex theory is that when the holes are 'opened', air is sucked into channels in the endplates and routed via thin pipes down to the beam wing and then all the way through the chassis until it reaches the nosecone.

    There it is channelled down through the two front-wing pillars to the front-wing flaps, where it is released, stalling the wing in F-duct fashion, cutting drag and boosting top speed. It is effectively the same F-duct system used by the team two years ago (with air flowing from the nose, through the chassis, to the rear wing), but in reverse. In simple terms, it acts as a front-flap adjuster, reducing drag and downforce at the front of the car, balancing it with the loss of drag provided by the DRS at the rear.

    A far simpler theory is that the system acts like an F duct, but purely on the rear wing. Either way, the grey areas in terms of legality are whether it is considered to be passive in its operation (legal) or driver operated (not legal), and whether it is acceptable for the driver-operated DRS mechanism to have such a secondary function. Red Bull and Lotus have requested clarification from the FIA and hope to have it before the Sepang weekend.

    Source: Formula1.com
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    So why is this causing controversy?
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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
    So why is this causing controversy?
    Other teams (Williams, Red Bull)see it as banned technology.
    But it is not really banned.
    What was banned was a hand activated F-duct. This one works when deploying the DRS, so it works in coherence with the DRS.

    But Mercedes has counterattacked:

    Hot on the heels of the new F-duct controversy, Mercedes has turned the heat back onto Red Bull.
    Amid complaints from rival teams including Red Bull about its innovative aerodynamic concept aboard the W03, Mercedes' Ross Brawn admitted he sensed a diversionary tactic.
    "The discussion about our system has diverted the focus from the exhaust issue," he said in Australia.
    The FIA has clamped down hard on the exhaust-blown diffusers seen throughout the grid last year, but much pre-season chatter focused on some teams' post-ban 2012 solutions that reportedly fly close to the boundaries of the new rules.
    But now Germany's Bild newspaper reports that Mercedes suspects Red Bull is also bending the rules in another area.
    The report said Mercedes' sound analysis indicated Renault-powered Red Bull is deploying an "illegal engine trick", apparently involving the turning on and off of individual cylinders.
    Mercedes' competition vice-president Norbert Haug commented: "There is no official protest by us. But there are some questions that we are asking the FIA."
    Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko hit back: "No one will find anything. We comply with the rules."
    German specialist magazine Auto Motor und Sport, meanwhile, reports that Melbourne winner McLaren currently has the most sophisticated exhaust solution on the 2012 grid.
    "I wouldn't say that it's illegal," said Peter Sauber, "but it's borderline."
    Teams including Mercedes, Lotus, Toro Rosso and Williams reportedly used much more conservative solutions in Australia. "First we wanted to see what is allowed and what is not," said Williams engineer Mark Gillan

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
    So why is this causing controversy?
    It's written right there:

    The grey areas in terms of legality are whether it is considered to be passive in its operation (legal) or driver operated (not legal), and whether it is acceptable for the driver-operated DRS mechanism to have such a secondary function.

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by DavidV Click here to enlarge
    Other teams (Williams, Red Bull)see it as banned technology.
    But it is not really banned.
    What was banned was a hand activated F-duct. This one works when deploying the DRS, so it works in coherence with the DRS.

    But Mercedes has counterattacked:

    Hot on the heels of the new F-duct controversy, Mercedes has turned the heat back onto Red Bull.
    Amid complaints from rival teams including Red Bull about its innovative aerodynamic concept aboard the W03, Mercedes' Ross Brawn admitted he sensed a diversionary tactic.
    "The discussion about our system has diverted the focus from the exhaust issue," he said in Australia.
    The FIA has clamped down hard on the exhaust-blown diffusers seen throughout the grid last year, but much pre-season chatter focused on some teams' post-ban 2012 solutions that reportedly fly close to the boundaries of the new rules.
    But now Germany's Bild newspaper reports that Mercedes suspects Red Bull is also bending the rules in another area.
    The report said Mercedes' sound analysis indicated Renault-powered Red Bull is deploying an "illegal engine trick", apparently involving the turning on and off of individual cylinders.
    Mercedes' competition vice-president Norbert Haug commented: "There is no official protest by us. But there are some questions that we are asking the FIA."
    Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko hit back: "No one will find anything. We comply with the rules."
    German specialist magazine Auto Motor und Sport, meanwhile, reports that Melbourne winner McLaren currently has the most sophisticated exhaust solution on the 2012 grid.
    "I wouldn't say that it's illegal," said Peter Sauber, "but it's borderline."
    Teams including Mercedes, Lotus, Toro Rosso and Williams reportedly used much more conservative solutions in Australia. "First we wanted to see what is allowed and what is not," said Williams engineer Mark Gillan

    Where are you finding this? It's awesome.

    Mercedes was just smarter than everyone.

    What exactly is borderline illegal anyway?
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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Autobahn335i Click here to enlarge
    The grey areas in terms of legality are whether it is considered to be passive in its operation (legal) or driver operated (not legal), and whether it is acceptable for the driver-operated DRS mechanism to have such a secondary function.
    If it isn't specifically stated to be illegal then it sounds like what Mercedes is doing is legal to me within the context of the current rules.

    How often does F1 change rules in season? They do it right?
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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
    If it isn't specifically stated to be illegal then it sounds like what Mercedes is doing is legal to me within the context of the current rules.

    How often does F1 change rules in season? They do it right?
    Well, normally they don't change the rules per se, unless it's for safety concerns or "ecologics" (blown diffusor where the egine burns fuel even if the driver is off throttle)) But they judge if the teams are respecting them correctly. Hence there are often discussions implying that the FIA "prefers" team XY (oftenly Ferrari in the past), approving things which are in the grey area.

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
    What exactly is borderline illegal anyway?
    Williams uses the hot exhaust gasses, which are exiting within the new regulations on a specific place on the side of the car, to create downforce with the form of their rear wheel setup and sidepod shape regulating airflow to create extra hot air downforce.
    This was meant to be banned with the regulation about the exhaust blown diffuser. So the FIA made regulations to mark a specific place where the exhaust gassen must exit the car, thinking noone could benefit from the hot gasses from that position.
    They were allready proven wrong.
    F1 is starting off nicely this year Click here to enlarge
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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Autobahn335i Click here to enlarge
    Hence there are often discussions implying that the FIA "prefers" team XY (oftenly Ferrari in the past), approving things which are in the grey area.
    Why don't the other teams just do the same if its an advantage?
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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by DavidV Click here to enlarge
    Williams uses the hot exhaust gasses, which are exiting within the new regulations on a specific place on the side of the car, to create downforce with the form of their rear wheel setup and sidepod shape regulating airflow to create extra hot air downforce.
    This is why this sport $#@!s all over everything else. This makes Nascar look kids playing with tractors.

    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by DavidV Click here to enlarge
    This was meant to be banned with the regulation about the exhaust blown diffuser. So the FIA made regulations to mark a specific place where the exhaust gassen must exit the car, thinking noone could benefit from the hot gasses from that position.
    They were allready proven wrong.
    F1 is starting off nicely this year
    I agree, sounds like a hell of a start.
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    Some more in depth information about the F-Duct issue

    Both Red Bull Racing and Lotus do not believe that the system is legal and unsuccessfully lobbied the FIA's Charlie Whiting towards reaching the same conclusion. Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn, however, explained that he had informed the governing body he was developing the system and that it was checked by Whiting and technical delegate Jo Bauer on Wednesday in Australia.

    There was divided opinion up and down the pitlane about what precisely Mercedes was trying to achieve. Moveable aerodynamic devices are prohibited outside of the DRS rear wing, but it is believed that what Mercedes is doing is utilising a hole in the rear wing endplate, which is exposed when the DRS wing is activated. Air is then channeled to the front wing, stalling that and achieving greater speed on the straight.

    "Innovation is the life-blood of F1," was a much-repeated mantra from Brawn during the Melbourne weekend, who explained that the magnitude of effect was nothing like that of the double diffuser or exhaust blown diffusers of recent years. By its nature, the system also affords a bigger effect in qualifying, when DRS can be used all the time. In the race, it can only be activated in specific DRS zones.

    A rumoured post-qualifying protest from Lotus did not materialise and McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh expressed the view that the system is legal.
    "We're looking at some of these ideas and you'd imagine they'd feature on cars as the year progresses," the McLaren team principal said. "I think it complies. There is an exception for the DRS device and they have been able to use that. We've got a reasonable understanding of the system and you have to make sure you don't compromise the underlying aerodynamic performance of those parts."
    Brawn says he is not concerned about a potential re-interpretion of the regulations.
    "Obviously we kept the FIA informed about what we were doing, they checked the system on Wednesday and were completely happy with it. Other teams aren't so happy and are seeking clarification.
    "If there is clarification to the point where the FIA is not happy, then we will change our position. If they are happy with it we will continue to use it. We're happy with it.
    "There were stories about protests but I think that would be very unfortunate. A protest after qualifying or race is not very pleasant because it can be done on a Thursday or Friday when it's less critical and the system can be turned off. I hope it doesn't deteriorate into that but it's a new and novel system and we will have to see."
    Brawn claimed that the controversy has removed the spotlight from exhaust exits and exhaust-blown diffusers, which he feels are entirely more significant.
    "Exhaust systems that people have are nowhere near what was intended by the FIA," he said. "They probably told you all that we were not going to have exhaust blown diffusers anymore. We thought we weren't going to have them, and several cars have got them. But if someone can see a clever interpretation, that's the nature of Formula 1. We are looking at the exhaust systems to see if they can be of benefit to us. I suspect they will disappear next year."
    Brawn would not be drawn into whether his 'F-duct' is easy to copy.
    "To answer that I'd have to go into detail and I don't want to," he smiled. "But you have to remember that whatever it is, it's something that happens when we have the drag reduction system on and when you don't have that, nothing's happening, so it's only for those periods that it's an advantage. When you're in the race and you're not using the DRS in normal racing, it can't have any effect. It has a benefit but only in a narrow window of time."
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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
    Why don't the other teams just do the same if its an advantage?
    Because it's easier to protest against some advantage and get it banned, vs investing a lot of $$$ in copying it. Also, sometimes a certain technology cannot be easily incorporated and require a major overhaul of the whole car design. These cars are so complex that a small change in one area can have a big impact in another.

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    Exactly.
    It is like last year's RBR6. Adrian Newey designed that whole car around the exhaust with the blown diffuser.
    This worked so well other teams had to incorporate the blown difuser into their own car, which were not specifically adapted for this technology.
    The RBR car was specifically build around it, and had the upper hand all year long. Every other team had to play catch up.
    Imangine what would have happened if the blown diffuser would have gotten banned after the first race last year. Red Bull could just as well have gone home then. The whole car design would not have worked. They would have finished 4th or 5th.
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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Autobahn335i Click here to enlarge
    Because it's easier to protest against some advantage and get it banned, vs investing a lot of $$$ in copying it. Also, sometimes a certain technology cannot be easily incorporated and require a major overhaul of the whole car design. These cars are so complex that a small change in one area can have a big impact in another.
    Sound reasoning.
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