Date: 11th April 2012 at 10:21am
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Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn believes the reason why their wing system has become so controversial is because it’s difficult to copy.

Formula One is all about innovative design, teams spend millions of pounds developing their cars for the smallest of gains, months of design and thousands of pounds in costs of manufacturing could just bring less than a tenth of a second to a race track on a Sunday afternoon.

But that’s the sport of Formula One, if a team can find an advantage, such as a blown diffuser of the F-duct, then that team will gain a performance advantage over its competition, until they come up with the same design, or in other words, copy it.

This year the main focus of design has surrounded the Mercedes rear wing.

Lotus and Red Bull had threatened to protest about the wing at both the Australian and Malaysian Grand Prix’s bet stopped just short of an official complaint, mainly because it has actually been deemed legal by FIA race director Charlie Whiting.

That hasn’t stopped the other teams complaining about it though and they have over the recent break asked the FIA to re-evaluate the Mercedes design.

The Mercedes rear wing concept is, in a way, similar to the F-duct-type device which had previously been developed by McLaren and others in previous seasons.

That concept has been banned as any device which is seen as driver operated is now deemed as illegal by the FIA.

Mercedes version appears to be a hole on the rear wing endplate. The purpose of it appears to be to direct air to the front wing of the car, to basically give it a straightline speed boost.

In Australia the Mercedes was regularly around 8kph quicker than Red Bull in the speedtraps, giving them good performances in qualifying and were also strong through the two DRS Zone’s in the race.

It works when the driver activates the DRS, the rear wing moves, which then uncovers the hole and immediately it begins to directed air to the front wing to ‘stall it’ for a speed boost.

As it appears to be only active when the driver enables the DRS their argument is that it is illegal.

FIA race director Charlie Whiting didn’t agree, he of course has had a detailed look at the Mercedes design and knows and understands exactly how it works, something the other teams do not have the benefit of.

So why don’t the other teams copy it? Well it isn’t down to cost because apparently it is a simple enough design which includes a couple of carbon pipes running down the car. So what’s the problem? Why are Red Bull and Lotus so busy complaining instead of designing their own system?

‘It’s a very simple, cheap system, but not so easy to implement if you haven’t integrated it into your car. Brawn told the BBC.

‘The benefit we’ve gained is because we’ve thought about it and designed it into the car, and that’s not so easy for the people who haven’t got it.

‘It’s one of the few things in F1 that is quite innovative without a cost element.

‘If someone could put it on their car easily, I promise you we wouldn’t be having these discussions. But they can’t do it very easily, which is why they’re getting so vexed about it.’


So there you have it. Will Red Bull and the rest carry on complaining? Or will they have a complete re-think to integrate it into their own designs?