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today is Jan 31, 2023

Mercedes may revise their new front wing design before it is raced for the first time at the Mexico City Grand Prix in order to avoid a legality row with the FIA.

The team brought the new wing as part of a package of upgrades for its W13 at last weekend’s United States Grand Prix. However technical director Mike Elliott said the first example was only brought to that race for logistical reasons and they “never intended to race” it at the Circuit of the Americas.

“We brought the front wing here actually just freight-wise,” he said. “It wasn’t meant to run this weekend, we only bought one of them so we’ve not got enough.”

The team intends to run it at this weekend’s Mexico City race, providing they have enough parts. “We always try to make sure not only have we got enough for each driver, but enough that if we have an off that we’ve got a replacement,” said Elliott.

The wing attracted attention due to the addition of several slot gap separators at the top. The regulations state these are permitted “for primarily mechanical, structural or measurement reasons”.

However Elliott admitted questions had arisen over whether they offered an aerodynamic benefit beyond what was envisaged when the rules were written.

“I think there’s a fuss about it because in the regulations it talks about the primary use being for ‘mechanical’ or ‘measurement’ purposes and clearly there is a secondary benefit of an aerodynamic design that’s in there as well,” he said. “We’ll decide whether we want to argue that one or not.”

The FIA first raised concerns over Mercedes’ design when they submitted images of the wing before bringing a finished example to the circuit.

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“We go through a CAD [computed aided design] review process with the FIA before we come to the circuit, that happens all the time,” said Elliott. “So it was something that was seen there and then they came back and said, ‘we’re not so sure about this’. So that process I think works okay.

“If you look at the regulations, there’s about 40-odd incidences in the regulations of ‘sole purpose’. In this case, it doesn’t say ‘sole purpose’, it says ‘primary purpose’. So I think there’s an argument to be had. Whether we want to have it is another question – it’s probably not worthwhile.”

He said the slot gap separators only produce a minor gain to the wing’s performance. “It’s actually not worth a huge amount. That detail looks interesting but it’s not the big thing on the front wing.”

Elliott refused to be drawn on whether Mercedes will simply remove some of the separators to remove any doubt over the wing’s compliance with the rules.

“We’ve not decided what we’ll do. The gain for those bits is so small, is it worth the risk of falling foul of the stewards?

“We always go through and make those decisions. But because we weren’t going to run it this weekend, we’ve not spent a lot of time thinking about it, we’ll do that in the calmness between the races.”

Asked whether rival teams had raised concerns over the design, Elliott said: “Not to us, but I’m sure they’ve said something to the FIA because that’s the way the game works. In some ways it’s quite nice that they’re talking about us.”

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