In the world of Formula 1, innovation and inspiration can come from unexpected sources. According to Andrew Shovlin, the trackside engineering director for Mercedes, the stunning views of the Mercedes and Red Bull floors in Monaco offer valuable insights. However, let’s make it clear that this is no simple “copy and paste” endeavour.
During the FP3 session, Lewis Hamilton’s unfortunate crash provided a unique opportunity for onlookers. As the crane gracefully lifted the damaged W14 away, waiting for photographers and rival teams were granted an unprecedented view of the car’s underside.
This perspective revealed the crucial role played by the floors in optimizing performance under the ground effect regulations. The misfortune didn’t end there. In the heat of qualifying, Red Bull faced a similar fate when Sergio Perez collided with the wall at Sainte Devote.
This incident drew even more attention to Red Bull’s floor, which has been particularly intriguing due to their dominant start to the season. With an impressive record of six wins out of six races, the intricacies of their floor design have become a subject of great interest and scrutiny.
Shovlin’s warning serves as a reminder that true excellence in Formula 1 can only be achieved through continuous development and the ability to adapt. The pursuit of greatness requires teams to not only observe and analyze but also to innovate and push boundaries. Drawing inspiration from others is one thing, but harnessing that inspiration to fuel progress is where the real magic happens.
“All teams will be looking at the photos and I suspect that they’re looking a bit more at the Red Bull ones than the Mercedes or the Ferrari ones!” Shovlin told Sky F1.
“Certainly you can get ideas about what they’re trying to do with flow structures, where they might be going with the development direction. If you look at last year, you look at this year, you can understand a bit about what they’re doing there.
“But the reality is, while those pictures can give you a bit of inspiration or an idea, it’s not as simple as let’s copy that, put it on our car and we’ll be as quick as they are. It’s definitely not a case of that.
“And the reality is you’ve got to focus the vast amount of your effort on understanding your own car and developing from there. So I think a little bit of inspiration, but not much more than that.”
In their quest for performance improvements, the Mercedes team is eagerly awaiting valuable insights from the heavily-modified W14 as it takes on the challenging Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. While the car’s introduction in Monaco didn’t provide substantial data, this upcoming race holds the promise of shedding light on the impact of their hard work.
Andrew Shovlin, with his keen eye for detail, is prepared to delve deeper into the specifics of the alterations made to the car and the desired outcomes. However, he emphasizes the team’s commitment to remaining open-minded.
Instead of expecting a miraculous solution to all their challenges, they approach this endeavour with a sense of curiosity and a willingness to explore unforeseen possibilities.
“We’re hoping that we’ve improved the overall performance of the car just with more downforce,” he said.
“We put a lot of focus on the sort of mid and high-speed as well, because early on that was an area we were poor. So hopefully we’ll be a bit happier in those new, fast corners there.
“And we’ve also done a bit of work on the front suspension. So we’ve changed the angle of that wishbone, the top wishbone. We’ve lifted that up, trying to change the platform control. So the way that when you hit the brakes, how does the suspension react to that, getting a bit of performance from the vehicle dynamics to make that a bit better?
“We’re open-minded about what we’re going to get, we just want to understand what are the gaps, where are we quick, where are we slow? What do we need to work on? Because we are expecting to have to do a bit more work. But really just getting that clear direction.”