Mercedes had to redo the brake air ductsMarch 10, 2020
During the pre-season tests, Red Bull Racing had suspicions about the legality of the Mercedes rear brake ducts, which they shared with the FIA, and they already reacted to this by sending the teams the technical directive TD 014/20. The document explains what the regulations allow and what not. Because of this, the champion team had to make changes to the design of the ducts to avoid problems in Melbourne.
In Red Bull Racing, they doubt not only the legality of the DAS system, which was already mentioned by Helmut Marko during the tests; Engineers from the Milton Keynes team also believe that in the tests, the rear air ducts of Mercedes cars did not comply with the technical regulations. It is possible that similar issues may be with Racing Point.
The essence of the claims is that the solution, which is clearly visible on the “spy” images taken in Barcelona, allows Mercedes to direct additional air, which is used to cool the brakes or rims, from an area located higher than 160 mm from the center of the wheel. And this is prohibited by the regulation, and can be considered as an attempt to gain an illegal advantage.
At the FIA, at the request of Red Bull, they hastened to distribute a special technical directive, which will be effective starting from Melbourne. This document unequivocally prohibits placing solutions that perform the function of air ducts in the restricted area, and the teams that concerned it had to urgently rework their machines. At least, we are talking about Mercedes, but probably about Racing Point too.
On all cars of Formula 1, the air ducts of the rear brakes are cunningly inscribed in the space between the hub and the wishbones.
Paragraph 11.5 of the Technical Regulations states that air ducts should not go beyond the 160 mm area located above the line drawn through the center of the rear wheel. However, some teams, as the FIA emphasizes, placed a certain design on the top of the hub that resembles the inverted letter “V” in shape.
The German edition of Auto Motor und Sport cites the opinion of Nicholas Tombasis, FIA Technical Director, who admits that the wording of this paragraph is not quite perfect, but the teams should not apply decisions that are contrary to the spirit of the current regulations.
The complex design, which Red Bull engineers spied on Mercedes cars, also performs a structural function (and the FIA notes this), but at the same time it allows to obtain an aerodynamic effect, i.e. additional air flow is directed to the air ducts and rims, and this is already a clear violation of the regulations.
The FIA offered the teams to which this applies two ways out of the current situation, when urgently it is necessary to make changes to the design of the rear brake air ducts. They will either have to make an additional hole in the back of the duct body so that the “excess” air simply passes through, or completely plug this additional V-shaped hole, which is located above the main air intake of the duct.
The second solution is simpler from an engineering point of view, but it can only be temporary and can only be used on the first two races of the season. After this, the teams to which claims are presented will have to submit a new duct design that fully complies with the requirements of the regulation.
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