Mercedes trial ‘shark fin’ on first day of Catalunya test

Lewis Hamilton pulls out of his garage on the afternoon of the first day of pre-season testing; the shark fin can be clearly seen on the top edge of the engine cover.

Formula 1’s defending World Champions, Mercedes AMG Petronas, have spent the first day of pre-season testing trialing the ‘shark fin’, an aerodynamic device which has returned to all cars in 2017.

The ‘shark-fin’ was run by the team during the afternoon, when Lewis Hamilton took over driving duties from Valtteri Bottas.

The device, which hasn’t be run on cars since 2008, is positioned on the top edge of the engine confinements and is supposed to divert turbulent airflow away from the rear wing, aiding in cornering.

The difference between the Mercedes W08 with the shark fin (above) and without. Both images were taken on the 27th of February during the first day of pre-season testing

When Mercedes officially revealed the W08 at Silverstone on the 23rd of February, their car lacked a ‘shark-fin.’ As it turned out, Mercedes were the only team on the grid not to include the device at launch.

The new fins have already attracted criticism, as some pundits and fans view them as highly unaesthetic. Most notably, Red Bull’s Team Principal, Christian Horner, told SkySports, “I think the cars look fantastic, the only thing that lets them down is the shark fins.” reports Horner even tried to have the device banned purely on aesthetic grounds last year, but all other teams reportedly rejected the proposal.

So far, however, the devices look to remain legal as they haven’t given any team a clear major advantage, such as the double-diffusor did in 2009.

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Steven Walton is an 18-year-old Journalism Student at the Ara Institute of Canterbury. He previously attended St Andrew's College in Christchurch, where he excelled at History and Classical Studies. Steven is the Editor-in-Chief at Green Flag F1 and spends most of his days living, breathing, and immersing in the Formula 1 world.

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