The first week of F1 testing was unusually shaky ground for Mercedes. A team that has not only won, but dominated season after season, was finally put under pressure by the strides made by Ferrari and Red Bull.
Ferrari seemed to have surpassed Mercedes as the new standard for the rest of the teams to aspire towards.
And Red Bull seemed to have caught up to Mercedes if not a shade better. Mercedes drivers complained about lack of down force and the car feeling shaky on corners losing grip easily.
Keeping that in mind, Mercedes went in to the weekend looking to bring in improvements and as the first day of week 2 rolled around, they brought in not just one or two, but a whole bunch of changes to their front wing and all around their entire aerodynamics system.
1) The nose cone of the car has seen slight changes as both sides around the Pirelli logo have been tucked in.
This will provide for an easier path for the airflow to get underneath the car, into the cape area where it will be able to create lower pressure thereby addressing the lack of downforce that the drivers complained about during the first week of testing.
2) The endplate design on the W10 initially were different from all other teams on the grid in that their endplate was curved inwards, which with the curve of the wing flap looked to guide the airflow inwards instead of the outwash that every other team was going for.
However with the new design, Mercedes have reverted to the outwash concept. The small cut out from the back corner also points to an attempt to create a vortex at an early point so together with the air flow coming off the wing flap it could be taken outside the edges of the car continuing the outwash effect. This also reduces the in wash and by default affects the loss of downforce that came from the in wash effect.
3) Two fins have been added on either side of the S-duct to provide additional control over airflow around the flanks of the chassis and the suspension of the car.
While the changes seem minor, every little control that a team can gain over air flow shaves off important milliseconds in times and that as we all know can be the difference between a win and a loss at the top of the table fight.
4) The floor of the car has seen 6 new fins added with 3 at the front corner and 3 at the back corner.
Both sets of the fins are again added to give more control over air flow from the sides of the car that can again be out washed around the rear of the car.
5) Downforce hasn’t just been addressed through the front end of the car but with the addition of a new T-Wing that is doubly enforced will help streamline airflow before it reaches the rear wing and also gives the car more downforce through the T-Wing.
The strakes on either side creates another opportunity for the air flow to form a vortex before it reaches the rear wing passing beneath the rear wing while creating more suction if the surface.