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Mercedes technical director explains "nuanced" test failure

NEWS STORY
18/11/2021

Mercedes technical director, Mike Elliot reveals why Lewis Hamilton's rear wing was in breach of the regulations in Brazil, and it is not clear cut.

"The simple answer is we failed a test that we needed to pass," admits Elliott in the post-Brazil debrief from the German team.

"It's actually a bit more nuanced than that," he adds. "Within the regulations there are two things, there are the technical regulations, which are the rules that we need to pass, and then there are technical directives, and they are issued by the FIA, and in general explanations as to how they are going to police those regulations.

"In this case, you've got the main plane of the rear wing and you've got a flap," he continues. "And there is a rule that states there is a minimum gap between those wings and a maximum gap when the DRS opens, and that maximum gap is 85mm.

"That is written in those regulations and that is something we actually passed," he confirms. "The wing wasn't more than 85, or the flap wasn't more than 85mm away from the trailing edge. The reality was that we didn't pass the technical directive.

"Within the technical directives, they specify how that measurement is going to be taken," he explains. "What they say is that we need to pass a test where they push a cylinder of 85mm diameter into that gap and they need to be able to push that through with a minimum force of 10 newtons.

"The reality is that, while we passed that over the majority of the span, there was a small place where we didn't pass that test," he admits. "Now, just to put that into perspective, we obviously try to make sure that our cars are legal at all times.

"We don't want to take these sorts of penalties. What we do is we test those wings in test and development, and in those tests we do exactly the same tests, but we do it with a much higher force, 30 newtons, and we pass.

"We also test those wings when we get to the track, so on a Wednesday morning or a Thursday morning, we go through all those suites of tests and again that wing passed."

The wing in question was impounded by the FIA and is still in its possession - Toto Wolff declaring that the sport's governing body can keep it and "cut it into a thousand pieces".

However, this means that Mercedes is unable to carry out its own investigation.

"For some reason, we are yet to understand," says Elliott. "We had some sort of reliability issue, whether that was damage on track, whether that was something coming loose, we have yet to find that out because that wing is being bagged up and sort of FIA sealed."

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1. Posted by Editor, 19/11/2021 18:26

"@ DavidA

Feel free to vent your hearts out"

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2. Posted by DavidA, 19/11/2021 18:20

"Well done Pitpass for letting us vent our feelings"

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3. Posted by DavidA, 19/11/2021 18:14

"The FIA need to clarify the rules, and be consistent is the word. Whilst the rules are inconsistent,I believe Vestappen would be a champion but the way he's being led! there could be a bad accident on the way he's been driving and there have been near misses and if the safety devices had not been in place this would have happened!. I could not drive a car at 125-200 mph and place a car fractions of an inch away from another car so any driver that can do this has my utmost praise, Max cannot do this at the moment, I have Just watch the master last Sunday. Max can be the same and not to be so impetus. For the FIA to penalise Lewis for loosen his safety belt after the race to pick up a flag I do think they should have been quicker to diagnose Max and Lewis incident, they took so long because they never had all the facts."

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4. Posted by Spindoctor, 19/11/2021 10:43

""Rules is Rules", but having trotted out that old chestnut, maybe we need to consider the context. Like nearly everything involving RBR & Mercedes these days the whole sorry business is mired in half-truth & obfuscation.

If it is true that RBR have been more leniently treated in similar circumstances, then I'd like Official confirmation or denial. Similarly, why does it appear that RBR were given 3 races to "fix" a "legal" wing which failed the Technical Directive but Mercedes were immediately penalised. I'm sure there's a very good reason, so let's have it please FIA."

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5. Posted by Simon in Adelaide, 18/11/2021 21:23

"10 Newtons is not a lot of force, approximately 1 kg so just get the kitchen scales out and give it a try.

If something that is supposed to be nominally 'stiff', as opposed to 'rigid', and there is sufficient deflection to allow the passage of the test gauge then I would suggest a more appropriate description of the component would be 'flexible'."

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6. Posted by Mad Matt, 18/11/2021 18:23

"Someone didn't seem to like it when I commented on another article saying I thought the FIA had still got the wing but here it is in this article too "The wing in question was impounded by the FIA and is still in its possession""

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7. Posted by elsiebc, 18/11/2021 17:12

"I understand much better now. It's like the technical regulation says that the front wing can't bend, and it doesn't, and we are in compliance with the regulation. The technical directive meanwhile says how much weight they are going to put on the wing and where to see if it bends. If it folds up like a cardboard box when you put that much weight on it then the wing just failed the directive but not the regulation.

And if I take a breathalyzer test several times before I leave the house and even at the bar and I pass every one of them with a 300% margin but fail the technical directive roadside one that doesn't mean I was driving drunk. Afterall, I got most of the alphabet right, it was just that pesky P-Q-O part."

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