Have Mercedes found their ‘silver bullet’? Upgrade dubbed ‘eureka moment’ by F1 pundit

Michelle Foster
Mercedes' Monaco front wing

Mercedes could be 'contenders every weekend" claims Tom Clarkson

There is “no doubt” that Mercedes’ new flexi front wing is the “eureka moment” or “silver bullet” for the Brackley squad in the ground-effect aerodynamic era.

A key development part that Red Bull nailed in 2022 and that McLaren got right last season, Tom Clarkson believes going forward Mercedes can expect to be contenders.

‘Mercedes are going to be contenders every weekend’

Mercedes introduced their latest notable upgrade at the Monaco Grand Prix, the changes including a new floor body, rear wing and front wing.

It’s the latter that caught the attention with the FIA’s notes on how it worked explaining that “increasing the inboard flap chord has increased the balance range of the front wing” while “redistribution of the outboard element chord had altered tip vorticity and improved tyre wake control”.

George Russell, the only one of the two to run the wing in Monte Carlo, was very happy with Mercedes also putting the wing on Lewis Hamilton’s W15 in Canada.

The team raced to their best result in the championship with Russell, who started from pole position, taking the chequered flag in third place, Hamilton right behind his team-mate.

Clarkson believes Mercedes have found their “eureka moment”.

“There is absolutely no doubt that Mercedes have taken a massive step in the last two races, isn’t it?” he told the F1 Nation podcast.

“It’s since that new… There’s no one element – James Allison, technical director will tell you there’s no one element that makes the car better – but there’s no doubt that new front wing that George ran in Monaco, both drivers had it in Montreal has been the silver bullet.”

He added: “There’s no doubt that it’s all about the flexi front wing.

“Obviously staying within the regulations there’s a load that the front wing has to carry, and it’s not allowed to flex more than a certain amount with that load on it. As long as it passes that test it can do whatever it wants beyond that.

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“Obviously Red Bull nailed that very early on in these regulations. I think another team nailed that from Austria onwards last year [McLaren] and Mercedes have nailed it now.

“And so it’s been a bit of a eureka moment for them to get that front wing on the car.”

The F1 pundit believes Formula 1 is in for an exciting time as the chasing pack continues to eek into Red Bull’s advantage.

“After qualifying on Saturday when he [Russell] took that pole position,” Clarkson continued, “he said the performance has zigzagged so far this year as they’ve been trying to find solutions, but they’ve now found it and I think it’s really exciting going forward for Formula One.

“Just look, him and Max Verstappen set an identical lap time in qualifying. Formula One is really, really competitive now.

“And okay, who’s going to win Barcelona? Probably Red Bull are going to be a bit stronger there.

“But McLaren are so good now, Mercedes are coming on strong and it was just confirmation what we saw from Mercedes in Montreal that I think they are back. They’re not yet on the level on a high-speed track of Red Bull but they’re certainly back and going to be contenders every weekend.”

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