Mercedes fans have not been too happy with Ferrari being allowed to use the front wing design that the Silver Arrows were forced to remove, but it all ultimately comes down to a minor change in regulations that were made last season. Let’s take a look at why it is legal now but wasn’t legal last season.

The Background

Last season, the German team arrived at the 2022 F1 US GP with a front that had 5 strakes that helped direct airflow. At the time, this raised the opposition’s eyebrows as it was in breach of Article 3.9.8.

“Article 3.9.8 of F1’s Technical Regulations limited the scope for such components to deliver an aero boost. The rules stated that, while such slot gap separators were allowed, they were not supposed to deliver a direct aerodynamic influence. The regulations stated that such strakes could be fitted ‘for primarily mechanical, structural or measurement reasons’.”

Mercedes was not too happy about it and the team’s technical director Mike Elliot said:

“I think there’s a fuss about it, because in the regulations, it talks about the primary use being for mechanical or measurement purposes. And clearly, there’s a secondary benefit of an aerodynamic design that’s in there as well. We’ll decide whether we want to argue that one or not. It’s actually not worth a huge amount. That detail looks interesting, but it’s not the big thing on the front wing.”

During the Ferrari car launch, a front wing with similar strakes was on display and this was something that made the Mercedes fans question why it was removed last season.

Why Ferrari can use the wing that Mercedes could not last season

While Mercedes couldn’t use the wing last season, Ferrari could this season because there was a slight modification in the regulations that meant the strakes could be used not only for structural support but airflow as well. A report from Motorsport states:

As part of revised technical regulations for 2023 that were published in early December, the FIA removed the key sentence that laid down the requirement for such strakes to be ‘primarily’ for mechanical, structural or measurement reasons. This means that as long as the slot gap separators provide a ‘structural connection’ between consecutive front wing profiles, and comply with strict measurement requirements, then they are now fully legal – no matter how much of an aerodynamic boost they deliver.

It will be interesting to see if the German team brings back the revised upgrade on its current car or will the team follow a different design philosophy altogether.