Technical analysis – Barcelona



Far from resting on its laurels, Mercedes gave the W07 a major overhaul, and this despite the car being already the class of the field. While the first-lap crash between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg denied the German manufacturer any more points, one only needs to look at the gap in qualifying to see that the upgrades are working. Pole sitter Hamilton was seven tenths up from the lead Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo, with the first Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen another three tenths adrift.

True to its aero philosophy of segmentation (highlighted by the W floor comprising six vanes and nine fins), Mercedes has added a serrated detail to the endplate of the W07’s front wing. Instead of being a single element, the upper edge branches off into three winglets that help control the airflow around the tyre. The upgrade had first appeared in Russia, though it had not been raced.

The turning vanes follow the same trend since the four elements are now separate while they used to connect at the bottom. What’s more, some of these winglets now feature a notch (see the yellow arrows). The rationale behind the new design is to split the airflow in several streams, which differ in pressure and speed, and will re-energise the all-important Y250 vortex. Generated in the area where the front wing’s mandated neutral section and plane meet, the vortex is then channeled around the car thanks to aero devices, including the turning vanes. Mercedes’ saw-tooth design allows for better control of the aerodynamic flows. While this might result in a slight increase in drag, the potent PU106C power unit more than makes up for it.