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I'm Matthew Somerfield, a freelance journalist focused on the technical elements of Formula One. It has been a pleasure to provide content via this site for the last 5 years, which has led me to several paid freelancing jobs along the way. I'm currently plying my trade with and working alongside the legend that is Giorgio Piola.

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29 Jan 2014

I've a few people say to me they cannot understand how I'm able to say with any certainty that the WO5's nose is made up with a crash structure that forms only one side of the 'Teeth' whilst the other is a Vanity Panel.  Therefore I'll do my best to explain the situation.

When we look at the WO5's nose we note it bears resemblance to the Ferrari F14T presented thus far, however on the Ferrari the gap between the Mainplane and centre section of the nose (tip) remains at the specified 185mm from the reference plane (Ie 60mm above the Mainplane).  The faux nose tip of the WO5 is actually 65mm higher at 250mm high.  How do I know this you're going to say...

Having already seen the Lotus nose and uproar it caused I mentioned at the time that I had floated such an idea several weeks before.  My idea (above) was a little aggressive and perhaps didn't take into account all of the dimensional constraints surrounding the curvature of the nose in the bodywork regulations.  However what it did do is highlight what sort of scenario was available.

The Mercedes nose follows a similar premise and so I've drawn onto the image below to try and explain the situation.

You have to consider 3 separate constructs, the connecting pylons are drawn in yellow and have a maximum width of 25mm and could extend up the side of the inner 'teeth' in order to add rigidity to the wing (although this will of course make the space between the pylons narrower.  The periphery of the nose is made up by the actual crash structure (drawn in red) meeting with the following key regulations:

15.4.3 An impact absorbing structure must be fitted in front of the survival cell. This structure need not be an integral part of the survival cell but must be solidly attached to it.
No part of this structure may lie more than 525mm above the reference plane.
It must have a single external cross section, in horizontal projection, of more than 9000mm² at a point 50mm behind its forward-most point. Furthermore :
a) No part of this cross-section may lie more than 250mm or less than 135mm above the reference plane.
b) The centre of area of this section must be no more than 185mm above the reference plane and no less than 750mm forward of the front wheel centre line.

The section that talks about 9000mm2 at 50mm behind it's forward most point means you must project that area at no less than 135mm and no more than 250mm above the reference plane.

One of the 'teeth' to allow this to be legal must be placed at 50.01mm (at least) behind the other (as we saw in the Lotus mock up) I have therefore marked in Green what is most likely made up as a Vanity Panel to create the symmetry and make the design legal.



  1. Can't it be that the whole inverted "U" is the crash structure? In the Lotus there are 2 totally different "thooths" but on the merc they are connected (at the 50 mm behind the tip where in the lotus isn't).

    So it is one tip unlike the Lotus but the shape is the inverted U.

    1. I'm not convinced the inverted U is within regulation, as however thin you make the cross member that connects the teeth, that in itself becomes the centre. It is however plausible and so it's why i've earmarked by own prognosis as probable and not conclusive.

    2. Wouldn't it be the case that the centre falls in middle of the gap under the inverted U? As far as I understand the rules, the only requirement is that this centre is no more than 185 mm above the reference plane. The rules don't say anything about the centre having to fall within the cross sectional area of 9000 mm2. It only says that the outer border of this cross section must be continuous and cannot cross the 250 and 135 mm lines.

  2. Thanks for explaining this a bit more.

  3. So the Lotus could have a vanity panel in one of the teeth to create symmetry as well..?

  4. AJ ( Yesterday Anonymous :) )29 January 2014 at 12:34

    Thanks for the explanations. Indeed, as Alexis is mentioning here before, why would Lotus opt for the 'obvious' assymetry, instead of a vanity panel solution on one of the teeth making it more aerodynamically symmetric?

  5. Hi
    I read your post and it contains very useful information. Thanks for this useful article.


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