Mercedes fell short of their expectations and failed to regularly challenge Red Bull Racing and Ferrari in the first half of the season, having quite a few problems with the porpoising and rebounding of their shocking W13.
The German team opted for a different design from the rest of the grid, seeking a more radical solution, with slimmer sidepods that earned the nickname ” zeropod ” when they first debuted in winter testing in Bahrain.
As the season progressed, Mercedes made progress in understanding their car and the problems it faced, paving the way for George Russell to finally take pole position in Hungary at the end of July.
Mercedes engineering director Andrew Shovlin explained that the team “didn’t want to just copy the design of the fastest car”, preferring instead to take a long-term view with their car concept.
“When you look at the long-term future as a team through the regulations, copying a design will only help you to a point,” Shovlin told Motorsport.com.
“The most delicate elements of the car’s aerodynamics are below it. So the least copyable part is the most important.”
“I would say that in the media our concept with a much narrower chassis was a much bigger talking point than within our own team.
“But we don’t cling to it because of any kind of radicalism towards our own ideas,” he added.
George Russell, Mercedes W13
Foto de: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images
Shovlin explained that the problems facing Mercedes “would not have been solved by changing the chassis concept from the get-go” to copy other designs, even more so given the pressure of the budget cap.
“We have to be very careful about what we do with our resources and what we didn’t want to do was start a project that could take four to six weeks to complete,” Shovlin said.
“We wanted to go step by step and check if what we were doing in the car made sense and if it lived up to our expectations.”
“Because at the time we were almost tiptoeing through the early stages of development, just to see if we could make a change to the car and get the desired effect, rather than pin all our hopes on something that was totally different.
Mercedes has also not ruled out changing its concept car for next year and going down a Red Bull -style design route, given that most teams have opted for a side pillar solution.
Team principal Toto Wolff said that they have “no specific preference” on which concept to pursue, but will simply try to “have the fastest car”.
“We will never copy anyone, but we can see things in other cars that we feel can help us,” Wolff told Motorsport.com .
“So these questions are being discussed at the moment and [will be] answered in the month of September or so,” the Brackley team manager concluded.
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