Mercedes, along with Marussia and HRT, are the last teams remaining yet to unveil their 2012 designs. Mercedes have announced that they are trying to find a balance between track time and car development in the wind tunnel. Last week in Jerez, Mercedes used their 2011 car fitted with the new 2012 Pirelli tires, in an attempt to learn as much about the tires as possible, while still developing the car in the factory.
Adrian Newey has announced that he has a different explanation. Newey firmly believes that there is something Mercedes is trying to keep from the other teams, most likely at the front of the car, which could give their team an advantage. Brawn GP, which would become Mercedes GP after their 2009 season, were famous for their double-diffuser technology that allowed them to dominate the first half of the season. Perhaps Ross Brawn has again found a solution that could give them an edge over the field, and would like to keep it secret. Brawn followed a similar strategy in 2009, after missing the first test and bringing the double diffuser only to the second.
Mercedes could be hiding a new innovation that would give them a similar advantage to that which team principle Ross Brawn enjoyed in 2009, or they could be simply gathering tire data before they use their 2012 chassis in order to have a controlled run for data analysis for the tires.
So far, the largest design controversy has been Newey’s “slot” in the step of the RB8’s nose. What looks like a mail slot in a post box has been cut into the top of the ‘step’ in the nose. Red Bull claimed that this is only for cooling the drivers’ feet, but there is a high level of speculation that this is not the only purpose. Similar to the F-duct of 2010, teams will have to figure out how the system works without seeing it, given that it is inside the car. However, the system could be for cooling purposes, there is no definite answer as of now concerning the purpose of the slot.