As Mercedes gears up for the third season with ground-effect aerodynamic cars, tech boss James Allison sees room for more ‘innovation’ and significant advancements.
The key to achieving this goal is to bring the car as close to the ground as regulations permit.
Red Bull has excelled in bringing their Formula 1 cars closest to the ground, resulting in consecutive championship doubles with the Adrian Newey-designed RB F1 cars.
In the world of ground-effect aerodynamics, where cars gain grip and cornering speed by hugging the ground, having a low-profile floor is crucial.
Red Bull, known for its success, emphasizes that achieving optimal performance is not solely about the floor but requires the entire car package to generate the necessary downforce and grip.
Despite Mercedes’ struggles in the previous season, the team is determined to bridge the gap, introducing a revamped W15 with extensive changes to nearly every component to stay competitive against Red Bull’s dominant streak.
Last season, they moved away from the zero-pods to adopt a down-wash concept similar to Red Bull’s. While many expect a trend towards the Red Bull style, Allison is optimistic about the potential for further innovation.
“I think most people will be iterating down a similar sort of avenue,” He mentioned, according to Motorsport.com.“But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for innovation at all.
“These cars, and it is no secret, run super-near the ground and that’s where they get their best performance.
“But there is also the ground there, so it is just trying to figure out how you can reliably, precisely, and in an informed way, place the car at a point above the ground that you know will be survivable from a skid legality point of view, but will also give you every bit of down force that the car is capable of offering.”
“There is plenty of action there still.”
Legal issues may trouble Mercedes, as at the United States Grand Prix last year, Lewis Hamilton faced disqualification due to excessive wear on his skid block.
Both Hamilton and Charles Leclerc were removed from the results. In Hamilton’s case, his initial P2 position was forfeited due to non-compliance in a physical floor and plank wear inspection, revealing that the plank thickness fell below the required minimum of 9mm.
Mercedes attributed this to the Sprint format, where teams were provided only one practice session to determine the optimal setup and ride height for the car.
Allison is set to lead the development path for this year’s W15 as the British individual re-assumes the Mercedes’ technical director position, taking over from Mike Elliott, who held the role last season.