Red Bull asked the FIA about the legality of the rear brake ducts of the Mercedes. As a result, the FIA issued a new directive that affected teams must modify their brake ducts ahead of Melbourne.
Formula 1 is just about to start the 71st season and, the teams are battling between them already. The squad from Maranello [Ferrari] is under pressure if the engine that the team is using is fully legal or not, after rival teams asked several times to the FIA. In the same matter of legality, if the DAS system that Mercedes introduced in the car does not comply with the regulations. So, now Red Bull is currently acting against Mercedes.
After some engineering personnel noticed during pre-season testing that, the rear brake vents are not following the rules within the technical regulations, therefore, Red Bull has triggered a query to the FIA. The query in question was in the opinion that the rear brake vents of some teams do not comply with the rules.
The FIA has issued a clarification following this request and, according to the FIA response “The technical directive TD 014/20 prohibits all air ducts in the prohibited zone”, these elements at the rear suspension, creates an additional airflow above the permitted zone. The airflow is then used to cool the brakes or rims. Consequently, this could be considered as an advantage in terms of tyre management, the FIA has taken this into consideration and, for Melbourne, the team is now forced to implement a change in the design.
The FIA expresses itself that Mercedes and potentially Racing Point, as they have followed almost the same ‘design philosophy’, have built a shaft at the top of the wheel carrier in a shape of an inverted “V”. In the technical directive, it was pointed out that this query is related to the Article 11.5. of the Technical Regulation, which says that “all parts of the wheel carrier above this area may only perform a structural function.” Air ducts are not permitted in this zone. FIA Technical Director, Nikolas Tombazis, admits that the definition of the rule in question “is not perfect” but, asks the teams not to contradict the spirit of the regulations.
What are the solutions to implement?
In conclusion, the arrange of the three elements at the rear have a supporting function in terms of an aerodynamic advantage in the cooling system for the brakes and, therefore, the FIA declared that this ‘shaft’ was illegal in the clarification.
The FIA offers two solutions to the teams that now must rebuild the part in question, their rear-wheel carriers. Either an outlet is created at the rear end of the frame. This way the air is simply conducted to the rear. And, the other solution is that the shaft can also be ‘closed’ completely. This solution can also ensure that no air is diverted for the brakes or rim cooling. However, if teams prefer the second solution, they can only do this as a temporarily, since the FIA expects a new rule-compliant design of the wheel carriers and brake ventilation systems.
Last year, Ferrari asked the FIA on the same matter with the W10 for the brake duct inlets but, the FIA declared legal and not to be in comply given that, Mercedes was able to show that the arrangement did not create an extra airflow to the brakes. Red Bull, on the other hand, presented its query in a way to convince the FIA to issue this technical directive to force their rivals to make the corresponding changes just a few days the start of the season.