Mercedes' W-floor, end of the bargeboard?

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Having completed more than the targeted mileage on the first day of testing, and actually topping their mileage record from any test session since the introduction of the current engine regulations, Mercedes are again one step ahead of the competition as they have already started to add new aerodynamic components on their car, a single day after the W07 debut.

Named the W-floor by Mercedes, the area ahead of the sidepod now features a number of serrated horizontal and vertical panes, all aimed at directing or contioning airflow towards the rear of the car. The more conventional layout here is to have a barge board, which is a solid vertically standing panel that guides air away from the centreline of the car, and around the sidepods. The thing is that with sidepod undercuts becoming so thorough and smooth, that there is less need for such a panel, forcing teams into the investigation of other things to put in this - largely unregulated - area.

So, instead of pushing air outboard, the 6 new panels allow for air to bleed through the system, into the low pressure area that is behind the "combined bargeboard". The interesting bit here is that each vertical panel attached to a seperate forward extension of the floor. And just like with the vertical items, this used to be a single, continuous panel of carbon fibre.

However, as air is flowing outboard in this area, the slight curve in the floor extensions help "fetch" some of that air, and push it underneath the floor, where it will be worked further downstream by the diffuser to create efficient downforce all over the car's floor.

Judging the complexity of the elements, it looks unlikely that many teams will be able to copy this rapidly, but one can wonder if this is the beginning of the end for the traditional barge boards that have existing on F1 cars for numerous years.


By BreezyRacer on 23-02-2016 at 19:22

I can possibly see some use on slower tracks like Monaco and the Hungaroring, where down force prevails over drag but you have to understand that these VGs do add a ton of drag, given their possible benefit (just my opinion). Of course when you're seated in the most powerful F1 car you can afford to give a little to get more DF. It would not surprise me that these were specifically targeted for use where mercs were weak last year. I would certainly be surprised to see them as an "every race" item.

Really, the front edge of the floor and tea tray edge designs have been pretty effective in channeling airflow out the early sides of the floors, which involves a lot of effort and air flow management to do so. Just look up and down the grid and you'll see everyone honing in on the same design, which involves scoops on the sides of the tea trays orienting airflow across the front edge of the floors to encourage airflow to exit out the sides of the floor, usually with a rolled edge or two to create a little low pressure to help. I wonder if the tea tray was changed to test this design?

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