August 20, 2013

F1 is back and what was Mercedes up to with their wheels?

Before the summer break, Mercedes AMG showed it had come to terms with its Achilles heel, tire wear, could clever wheels have helped?

The summer break is finally over, this week end Formula One is back at the best track, Spa.  Twitter feeds fired up, press releases, articles are written...all is good with the world!

Over the break there were few items to discuss,  the main being the Red Bull seat shuffle.   Raikkonen's management, as you probably know by now, has let it be known that that negotiation fell through.  If I had to guess, RBR must have insisted on some variation of a "Multi21" clause and perhaps more promotional demands than the Kimster was willing to commit to.

This leaves the door open to Daniel Ricciardo,  interesting Red Bull would choose a very Ferrari-esque strategy in the Barrichello-Massa tradition.   Also interesting, an empty seat at Toro Rosso which might not go to a pay driver but to a genuinely deserving driver.

The other fantasy rumor was of a return of the Finn to Ferrari.   After he left Maranello for his two year exile, Raikkonen called his time with the Scuderia the worst of his life.   That's pretty bad considering he worked at Mclaren before, a place that strikes nobody as warm and fuzzy.    For his part Luca di Montezemolo proclaimed at the time he would never have anything more to do with Kimi other than pay him  NOT to drive.
Stranger things have happened and it would be a smart move from Ferrari on many levels which is why they'll probably just renew Massa's contract.

Sutton Images
On the technical side, before the break Mercedes seemed to have come to terms with its tire eating problem related to overheating.

The W04, pre-Monaco and pre- Pirelli testgate, would light up the tires faster than other cars which gave it a big advantage in single lap qualifying pace but was a disaster over a long stint (remember Hamilton's "I can't drive any slower" radio message?).

2012 tires demanded high temperatures and teams tried what they could to get them to "turn on".  One  common strategy was to use energy in the brakes to heat the wheel rim and the tire core.   Much engineering was spent trying to figure out ways to control this (brake disk exhaust holes have been studied with that goal in mind, Mclaren's variable heat vents).   2013 tires work differently and Mercedes more than anyone suffered.

A couple of observant people noticed in Hungary Mercedes wheels had what looks like a protective ring on the inside of their rear wheels, right above where the brake disk would be located.   Speculation was that this is an insulator, protecting the tire from excessive heat and thus wear allowing Lewis Hamilton to dominate the last race.

A low tech stopgap measure until Mercedes figures a new high tech venting strategy?  Certainly another win for resourceful and clever F1 engineers if confirmed.


  1. only see it on the rears - what about fronts? surely the fronts suffer too...

  2. Good catch, Kawa - are the fronts machined and not "painted black"?

  3. the limiting factor is certainly rears as they have so much more work to do.

  4. I'd rather post as guestSunday, August 25, 2013 3:36:00 AM

    Guys I think this is just the opposing side of the sealing strip (ptfe covered foam) seen on the externals of the break ducts which is used to stop heat from blowing under the diffuser in an uncontrolled manner. Mercedes seem to be refining the fundamentals.

  5. And who's the next winner for this 2014 seasons? Jilbab Terbaru


nRelate Posts Only