The inaugural trial of anti-rain ‘mudguards’ aimed at enhancing drivers’ visibility did not yield favourable results.
In the wake of a tragic incident involving a junior category driver at the perilous Spa-Francorchamps circuit, F1 pledged to experiment with an inventive solution to curtail the exacerbated spray caused by the ground-effect era.
During the test, Mercedes and McLaren actively participated in evaluating the Mercedes-manufactured prototype mudguards at Silverstone, employing a specially watered segment of the track.
As part of the back-to-back comparison, Mick Schumacher’s Mercedes was equipped with the fenders, while Oscar Piastri’s McLaren ran without them.
Addressing the outcomes, Mercedes’ engineering chief, Andrew Shovlin, acknowledged the need for further refinement. “I mean, there’s more work to do on them,” he candidly admitted while in Hungary.
He went on to elaborate, “They’re not ready to be moved into production and regulation at the moment. There’s definitely work to do.”
Shovlin pointed out that although the attached devices showed some reduction in spray, “you still get a lot coming from the diffuser, in the way that the rear wing is pulling it up.”
Considering the potential of the mudguards, he added, “That’s all very powerful. But it was interesting first steps, and we’re providing the car and some bits to do that development.”
However, Shovlin emphasized that the fate of the project rested with the FIA. He noted, “It’s the FIA’s project to decide where that goes next and what happens in the future.”
On the other hand, Auto Motor und Sport from Germany expressed a more critical perspective, deeming the test a “failure.”
According to correspondent Andreas Haupt, “There was still too much spray.” Haupt also mentioned that observers found the aesthetics of the fenders to be unsatisfactory.
Amid the test’s shortcomings, photos of the trial have not been disclosed to the public. An insider from the FIA candidly admitted, “We are not yet where we want to be with it.”
Nonetheless, a spokesperson representing the Paris-based federation shared a more optimistic outlook, stating, “The test provided valuable CFD correlation data as well as good driver feedback.”
The spokesperson affirmed that these insights would play a pivotal role in refining both the methodology and the design for the upcoming phase 2 of the project.