This is not the most exciting video in Formula 1 history, that’s for sure. But if you are an F1 fan then this explanation about the Mercedes F1 team’s new controversial wheels will hit home. In recent weeks Mercedes F1 has debuted a wheel and drive hub/space assembly that has fans clamoring for the gossip behind them and other race teams threatening protests. Despite FIA saying that the new design is legal, Mercedes has been hesitant to run them given the possible impact a protest could have on their season points. So how the hell does a wheel cause so much controversy?
First off you have to remember the F1 effect. That is the scenario where anything more than a sticker is going to cause other teams to bitch and moan and cry in order to make sure nobody is gaining some advantage. In this scenario, lets say that isn’t the only reason for the outrage, and assume there really is some performance advantage.
In a nutshell, the new wheel and “spacer” or drive hub that is being described in the video, work together to draw air through the wheel while driving. It in turn draws heat through the wheel, further cooling the brakes, hub, and wheel assembly in the process. According to the Autosport guys in the video the Mercedes F1 design is intended to keep the wheel cooler and therefore the carcass of the tire as well. Apparently the difference in sidewall and carcass temperature, compared to the tread itself, causes uneven wear which is already an issue with the ultra finicky Pirelli F1 tires. They have a very narrow window for ideal operating temps, and keeping the carcass of the tire cool will in turn keep the rest of the tire cooler.
In the past, Team Redbull tried a similar design to the Mercedes F1 team’s, with the intention of directing air through the wheels for improved aerodynamics. The FIA didn’t like this one bit and the design was banned. They say that this system from Mercedes F1 is similar, but has a different reasoning, and is therefore legal. The Italians at Ferrari do not agree.
Watch the video and let us know what you think. We think we’d stir the pot a bunch if we cared very much about F1.