Could FIA ‘close up’ Mercedes’ front wing innovation in ‘good for F1’ debate?

Michelle Foster
George Russell laps the Sakhir circuit in the Mercedes W15

George Russell drives the Mercedes W15.

F1 chief technical officer Pat Symonds concedes that while Mercedes’ innovative front wing is within the rules, it may not be within the spirit of them and he believes the FIA could step in.

Mercedes debuted an innovative front wing on this year’s W15, the wing sporting a thin piece of carbon fibre that connects the uppermost flap to the nosecone.

Although detached wing elements were banned for 2022, the use of the wire means the wing is within the technical regulations – but questions continue to be asked about whether it is within the spirit of the rules.

Pat Symonds asks: Is that really within the spirit of the rules?

That’s something even Symonds is pondering.

“I think what is interesting is that in article three [of the technical regulations], which really dictates how the aerodynamic shapes are produced, it’s very clear in the opening statement that the aim of the rules is to ensure we get this close following,” he told F1TV.

“So really, when you start to get things that are perhaps producing some outwash, and here I think what we’re seeing is really trying to reinstate quite a strong vortex to push that very turbulent air that’s coming from the front wheels to try to push it aside, one question then is that really within the spirit of the rules?

“It’s within the regulations, it’s within the letter of the law. There’s absolutely no doubt about it. Is it the sort of thing we want? Well, I don’t know. That’s perhaps a bit more debatable. But I think we need to know really how strong is the effect.

“The FIA now have a very good aerodynamic group, the group that used to work for me, that are capable of looking at these things and saying ‘Yeah, actually there’s nothing wrong with that’ or ‘No, hang on, this is starting a trend we don’t really want to see’. They will have seen that.” recommends

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Could the FIA step in to ban the legality wire?

Although Symonds accepts the design is legal, he reckons the FIA could step in down the line as their only focus is what’s “good” for F1, not the individual teams.

Asked if the FIA should ‘close up’ this ‘unnecessary area of exploitation’, Symonds replied: “I wouldn’t use the word unnecessary because everything’s worth exploiting on a racing car. If there’s anything to be gained we can actually see that much better now that the wing is on.

“It’s more a question of what’s good for the sport rather than what’s good for Mercedes, what’s good for Red Bull.

“And of course, I jumped the fence a few years ago so now I try to look at what’s good for the sport. And without a doubt what’s good for the sport is good close racing so anything that promotes good racing is good, and detracts from that is poor in my mind.”

On their side, Toto Wolff says Mercedes had the conversation with the FIA and that the wing is “okay”

“I think what is being put on the car is always following an exchange with the FIA all through the process,” told the media, including PlanetF1’s Thomas Maher.

“There is no such thing of having a clever idea and bolting it on without checking. So there is a long process of dialogue over the winter, so I feel we are in an OK place.”

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