Mercedes confirm ‘exchange with the FIA’ over controversial front wing design

Michelle Foster
Mercedes five stabiliser front wing on display. Austin October 2022

Toto Wolff has confirmed Mercedes had an “exchange with the FIA” regarding the front wing they had on display in the pit lane on Thursday at the Circuit of The Americas.

Mercedes arrived at the United States Grand Prix with an extensive upgrade package for the W13.

That included new floor edges, floor fences, rear wing endplate and front wing.

The latter caught the attention of Mercedes’ rivals as the five new stabilisers had a more aerodynamic design – and function – than permitted in the regulations.

According to Sky Sports reporter Ted Kravitz, rival outfits felt the “slot gap separators which are masquerading as air flow conditioners around the front to create an outwash”.

That is “not allowed”, he explained, “any of the old front wing furniture that used to direct air flow in any direction you wanted to put it” is not allowed any more.

As such Mercedes did not run the new front wing in Austin.

They do, however, plan to use it at the next race in Mexico but only after making a few changes to the stabilisers.

Wolff was asked about that by The Race with the motorsport boss saying it is question of “whether we can run it or whether we think it’s good to run it”.

Asked to explain what exactly Mercedes will need to change, he replied: “Well I could, but I don’t want to go in the detail because we’re thinking of running it and we had an exchange with the FIA.

“So maybe we need to tweak a little bit here and there. But it’s not yet decided.”

But while the wing never made it onto one of the cars, the rest of Mercedes’ upgrade package did according to Wolff.

“I think the update works,” he told Sky Sports F1. “We had a lap in us that was three-tenths quicker, but the car is so tricky to drive.”

Lewis Hamilton, though, wasn’t overly convinced.

Finishing second on Sunday he was asked about the upgraded package and replied: “Honestly, it’s really difficult to say whether or not… I’m sure the team will know whether we’ve taken a step forward compared to others.

“It’s difficult to say whether it’s compared to these guys, but I’m sure it helped. Just because you go to different races, sometimes, you know, from the last race of this race it’s difficult to really feel exactly.

“But I do think we’ve taken a step in the right direction.”

He, however, concedes Red Bull still hold the advantage with Hamilton saying the RB18 is about 8kp faster.

“They’ve been so fast on the straight,” he said, “under DRS they’re like 35km/h faster than us. If we’re behind them, we’re like, 22k faster, I think it is, with DRS on the back straight.

“But even without the DRS, I think they’re still something like 8k up on us, so we’ve got a lot of time being lost on the straight, probably four tenths at least a lap. And so we’ve got some improvements to make for next year’s car.”

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