Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes under fire over car winglets concerns

Mercedes: What’s gone wrong at the F1 and can they recover?

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Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have come under fire ahead of Sunday’s United States Grand Prix as concerns have been raised over the compliance of their car winglets. Hamilton is currently sixth in the F1 Drivers’ Championship standings amid an underwhelming season that has been marred by car issues.

According to Planet F1, Mercedes arrived in Austin with an upgraded W13, with the front wing being redesigned to improve flow conditioning. Additional slot gap separators have been added, with floor fences and the floor edge also being tweaked. The car is also sporting a reprofiled rear wing endplate, while an extra winglet has also been added underneath the floor edge.

Mercedes have come under close scrutiny as rival teams question whether all changes adhere to the regulations. And Sky Sports reporter Ted Kravitz has explained the fallout. “So what you’re allowed to do with the wings, you’re allowed to have these slot gap separators,” he said as he assessed the wings in the pit lane.

“That’s to actually separate the front wing flaps and to make sure they all stay together and have a consistent slot gap. You’re allowed as many of them as you need on the front wing. Now what you’re not allowed is any of the old front wing furniture that used to direct air flow in any direction you wanted to put it. You’re not allowed any of those bits now.


“What Mercedes have done with their new front wing is said, ‘aha, but look these are just front wing slot gap separators, your honour. They’re in no way designed to capture air and push it outboard around the front tyre and back towards the side. It just looks like they are.’

“So I think that’s where the questions from the other teams have come. The other teams have said, ‘okay look, I know what you’re saying. You’re saying that these are basically slot gap separators. But clearly they’re slot gap separators which are masquerading as air flow conditioners around the front to create an outwash.’ Well it’s obvious what they want the air to do.

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Kravitz then joked the air flow advantage was an “accidental benefit of the front wing,” and Mercedes chiefs “must have” put them on wonky. And he continued: “This is the only front wing with this interesting development that they have and Mercedes are not running it and that is really where my suspicions have come up.

“They’ve got this new front wing, they’ve brought it here. The normal process is that teams consult the FIA before they do things and say, ‘hey, look we’ve got this new interpretation of the rules. We think it’s okay, what do you think? And the FIA normally say, ‘yeah we think that’s okay as well – nice interpretation.’ What the FIA can’t do is guarantee that the stewards will agree with it when it gets to the circuit.”

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