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The W-Duct

876   //    31 Mar 2012, 10:25 IST

Another device which Mercedes has pioneered apart from the innovative F-Duct + DRS system is the W-Duct. This device is related only to the front wing of the car. The air enters through the hole in the front of the nosecone of the car and then it is redirected to different parts of the front wing to produce downforce or reduce drag depending on whether the car is manoeuvring corners or running on the straights.

Just after the hole, inside the nosecone, there is an aerodynamic valve which can sense the direction of the airflow which will be different in case of right hand corners, left hand corners or the straights. After the valve, there are six diffusers located which redirect the air through the front wing pylons down from the nosecone to the main plane of the front wing. Then the air is sent to different parts of the front wing(left or right) with the help of duct pipes. Finally the air is blown out above or below the front wing surface with the help of output diffusers.

After being channelled by the aerodynamic valve, the air enters the respective diffusers. Two diffusers are allotted for each of the three cases (corners and straights).

When the car is travelling on the straights, the entry direction of airflow is straight. So, it enters the corresponding diffusers and travels through the pylons. Then two duct pipes divide the airflow – one part is sent into the right part of the wing and the other is sent into the left. Output diffusers present there then blow the air above the front wing surface – this helps in reducing the pressure difference above and below the wing and thus downforce and drag which is necessary for higher top speed on the straights. Dividing the airflow into both the left and right parts of the wing is essential so that the reduction of downforce is equal on both sides and the car’s balance from left to right is maintained.

When right hand corners are detected, the two corresponding diffusers perform the same function as above. But when the air enters the ducting pipes, both the pipes direct the airflow into the right hand side of the wing. Now the output diffusers blow the air below the wing surface, thus increasing downforce. Having both parts of airflow directed into the right hand side of the wing helps in levelling the right hand side of the wing thus providing better turn-in handling into right hand corners.

In case of left hand corners, the mechanism is quite similar to the right hand one. The main difference is that now both parts of the airflow are directed into the left side of the wing. Now similar blowing of the air below the wing surface helps level the left hand side of the wing and this time provides better turn-in handling into left hand corners.

The W-Duct device has not faced any protest by the teams or restriction by the FIA as it does not have any movable or driver-operated aerodynamic device. Each of the devices works passively here and there is no driver involvement in operation of any of them.

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