With the development race for the 2012 season already firmly underway, Mercedes seems to have gained a vital head start over rival teams after recreating the outlawed F-duct which dominated the 2010 season.

While ducting air to the rear wing, and using the driver to control the flow, is banned, however, the Mercedes innovation appears to be perfectly legal as the device - which is located within the tip of the front wing - works of its own accord with no driver input.

According to German magazine Auto Motor und Sport, the idea, which was alleged to have been tested during the Japanese Grand Prix weekend, will channel the airflow from the tip of the nose, down inside the front wing supports before subsequently exiting at the rear of the wing. While not having the sort of downforce-inducing capabilities of its predecessor, Mercedes hopes its reworking of the idea will allow a greater volume of undisturbed air to be redirected through the floor of the car.

This should come as great news for its drivers Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg who already enjoy a top speed advantage with their car's effective use of the DRS system.

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh predicts the device will boost top speed by maybe another 5-8kph and, while acknowledging the significance of the Mercedes innovation, admits that it may be too late for other teams to get a handle on its inner workings before the start of next year.

"If you make a start now, it's already too late,'' the Mclaren team boss confirmed..

If Ross Brawn and his team can build a car that will produce a lot of downforce through the corners, the combination of DRS and its new F-duct could prove to be a very competitive next season.

The question is whether the likes of Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren have come up with something equally as innovative.

by Simon Evans


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