Mercedes avoids crash risk! Out of fear? New front wing remained in the garage in Canada

Formula 1 thrives on innovation – Mercedes knows that too. Accordingly, the development of the Mercedes W15 is progressing steadily in the 2024 Formula 1 season. The team from Brackley also made small upgrades to the car for the Canadian Grand Prix. The front wing received particular attention – but less because of an innovative concept than because of its alignment with more conventional approaches.

The technical director of the chassis department at Mercedes, James Allison, is convinced of the new front wing design, which is intended to improve the aerodynamic balance as well as the stability of the vehicle at high speeds. “Over time you find better solutions and what you thought was great is no longer great. This wing is better than the old wing,” said Allison, presenting the latest technical development on the W15.

The unique front wing concept introduced by Mercedes at the start of the 2024 season, in which the top flap is reduced inwards to a wafer-thin strut, is now a thing of the past. The modification now has a more conventional design, but loses none of the advantages of the old specification. Instead, according to Allison, it is a win-win situation: “The feature that gave us more balanced downforce on the old wing is even better on this wing.”

The new (left) and old (right) Mercedes front wing in Monaco
Mercedes front wing: This is what distinguishes the new from the old specification, Photo: LAT Images /

Weather chaos in Canada: Mercedes holds back with new front wing

At the last race weekend in Monaco, the new specification of the Mercedes front wing was already used on George Russell’s car and achieved a promising performance. Lewis Hamilton attributed the difference in performance between himself and his teammate, especially in the high-speed corners, entirely to the update. The seven-time world champion must have been delighted that both Mercedes cars would be optimally equipped for the Canadian GP, ​​so that he too could benefit from the aerodynamic innovation.

Does Lewis Hamilton fear being disadvantaged by the team he will be leaving at the end of the season? In the qualifying duel, he clearly lost out to his young colleague George Russell. In this video, Christian sheds light on the tense situation at Mercedes:

Lewis Hamilton complains! Is he being discriminated against by Mercedes? (14:52 min.)

But the weather had other plans on Friday. About an hour before the start of the first training session, it looked as if the training day would be completely canceled due to heavy rain. But it didn’t turn out to be quite that bad. As the rain let up, the training session started on time. After waiting almost half an hour for the track to be cleared, Hamilton was the first to venture out onto the wet track – but he had left the new front wing in the garage.

The tricky weather conditions caused nervousness at Mercedes. At 2pm Canadian time, just minutes after the pit lane was opened for the first time this weekend in FP1 and the drivers were allowed out onto the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, they announced: “The team has equipped Lewis with the old front wing for this run so as not to risk damaging the new front wing specification.” A little later, Russell also took to the track with the old front wing design on the car.

Mercedes therefore played it safe and did not test the new front wing in the difficult conditions, where slips and damage can easily occur. It was only at the start of FP2, when conditions were dry, that Hamilton and Russell were fitted with the new front wing specification for a few laps. When the rain started again, they switched back to the old wing.

The reason: the availability of spare parts for the new wing is still limited. Accordingly, if a change is necessary after qualifying under parc fermé conditions, a replacement of the same specification might not be available, which would violate the parc fermé rules and thus result in a start from the pit lane.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton ahead of teammate George Russell
In dry conditions, Mercedes briefly dared to use the new front wing on the track in FP2, Photo: LAT Images

Hamilton’s fighting spirit drives Mercedes: Let’s go!

The changeable weather meant that both practice sessions on Friday produced little insightful and meaningful data. “It was difficult to learn much because the conditions changed on every single lap: it was drizzling, then it was raining, then it dried out. The car felt good, but I guess we’ll only find out tomorrow,” Russell summed up cautiously.

His teammate Hamilton was far more optimistic: “I feel great. The car felt strong. I feel like I’m ready to fight. I feel like the car is responding to my input and I feel very confident out there. I felt very strong today in both wet and dry conditions. I feel like we’re closer to the front this weekend.”

What is important to remember, however, is that the balance of power is difficult to assess due to the unfavourable weather conditions, which meant that no one was able to complete the regular training programme. Mercedes is currently in fourth place in the World Championship table.

For Hamilton, it was particularly important to complete as many laps as possible on the track in order to To get to know the special features of the track and the behavior of the car on the track and to gain confidence. “I kept telling the guys: Get out of here, get out of here, get out of here! So I urged my guys: Let’s go, let’s go! I just wanted to maximize the time on the track – no matter what the conditions were.”

The rainy Friday presents the teams with a special challenge on Saturday: “In FP3 you usually concentrate on the qualifying runs, but we have to concentrate a bit on our long runs and then on the qualifying runs at the end of the session. Then we have to be very quick between the two sessions to make changes. Because honestly, neither the team nor the driver learned much today.”

It remains to be seen whether the plan for the third free practice session will be put into action and the new front wing can be properly tested. Because possible rain showers have also been announced for Saturday – although not as heavy or long-lasting as on Friday. You can find the weather forecast for the Canada weekend here.

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