‘Great’ Mercedes W15 front suspension innovation under microscope

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes W15 inside the garage.

Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes W15.

Never mind the legality wire front wing, it’s the W15’s front suspension with its adjustable wishbone that has been dubbed one of the most “useful” parts on the new Mercedes.

After two years of troubles, Mercedes have put a heavily revised car on the track for this year’s championship with the team hoping to close the gap to Red Bull.

Immediately the new front wing with its legality wire created the headlines, Mercedes using a carbon fibre wire to connect the nose by the second flap and the fourth flap, thus making the design legal.

Mercedes have designed an innovative front suspension

However, that’s not the only interesting new element to the W15 as Mercedes have also come up with an adaptable front suspension.

Featuring an additional upper rear wishbone leg, the design allows the team to better optimise the set-up of the car at each individual track.

But, according to pit lane reporter Ted Kravitz, the other advantage with the design is that it allows for the team to quickly change the set-up, which they’d do by moving the inboard end of the suspension leg.

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“It’s great,” he said in a Sky Sports Q&A answering fans’ questions.

“A relatively quick change from what seems to be a regular amount of anti-dive to a massive amount of anti-dive, is a useful thing to have.

“But I’d be absolutely astonished if they changed it in the middle of a race weekend.

“I think it’s the kind of thing where they know the circuit they’re going to, let’s say one where cars struggle to protect their front tyres such as Hungary or Abu Dhabi, they’d know where they’d want that particular suspension geometry and they’d bring the car with it already fitted.

“But it’s nice to know that they can change it quite quickly.”

Mercedes trialled different set-ups with the upper rear wishbone during pre-season testing, running it in the higher mounting on the first two days before dropping it on Day Three.

Tech boss James Allison is convinced the W15 is a step forward on its predecessor.

“I think we largely have,” he told Kravitz when asked if Mercedes had solved their driveability issues.

“The bouncing is still a thing that’s going to be a threshold that all the cars in the pit lane will work up against until this generation of car moves on to something different.

“So there is still some bouncing that we can bury ourselves in or come out of just in pursuit of what the right performance compromise is.

“But the sort of horrid snappy rear end, that is happily not troubling us in the way that it did in the past.

“It’s mostly mechanical changes in the car but it’s always a marriage between the aerodynamic behaviour through the corner and the suspension.”

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