Mercedes’ technical director James Allison says the ‘breath of our opponents down our necks’ inspired the team to go aggressive in the quest for downforce.
Mercedes’ Technical Director James Allison says the team were tempted to continue down an evolutionary path with the already championship winning W10 car, with a ‘conservative approach’ to 2020 being the more attractive option in the final year of the current regulations.
However, Allison explained: “We were feeling the breath of our opponents on our shoulders. We know their hunger and we know that if we don’t do something impressive with this car, they will eat us up and leave us behind. So, we decided that we would make a car that was aggressive.”
“So, at the front first of all, at the front we have changed a lot of the structure of the front corners.” Allison expanded. “We have made it much harder for ourselves structurally,much harder to take the forces, but we have rearranged the detail inside the wheels and in the way the suspension goes into those wheels so that we have more aerodynamic opportunity in the front end. A difficult project but one which has given us good aerodynamic gains.”
The front was also made more difficult by the introduction of the new ‘DAS’ steering system on the Mercedes, which required homologation and to pass the FIA crash tests.
Moving on to the middle of the car, Allison said: “We have moved the side impact structure from its upper position that we have had for the last three seasons, we have moved it to a lower position here. Something which many teams have already done and something which we have been watching on from afar, but this year we decided to make the structural investment to pull that into our car and to bank the aerodynamic gain that comes with it.”
“At the back, the rear suspension on this car is extremely adventurous. We have put into the back, specifically on the lower rear wishbone, we have put a new geometry in there, a new geometry that gives us more aerodynamic opportunity, allows us to get more downforce on the car.” explained the technical director.
“Taken together, all these investments that I have been describing, none of them are easy and nearly all of them are a structural compromise where we have had to put weight on the front, in the middle and at the back of the car in order to realise these gains and that weight has had to be paid for by hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of small innovations by other designers who have managed to save the weight that’s allowed us to buy each of these investments. But these investments have given us a good winter. We have got a car here that is streaks ahead of that one in terms of downforce.”
We have got a car here whose development slope has kicked up, is steeper than the one that we finished last year’s with, in that very, very good car from 2019.”
With Mercedes admitting to needing to unlock more engine performance after being surpassed by Ferrari towards the end of 2019, Allison said that Mercs’ engine department have put in a ‘huge, huge effort’ to reap more power: “They have managed to have a really good winter, finding lots and lots of fresh horses from this Power Unit, many years into a regulation with fixed fuel flow, this year they have managed to find a really impressive upgrade in the power. Not just more horsepower. They have also for the third year straight bent over backwards to give us a Power Unit that gives opportunities on the chassis side to develop better aerodynamics.”
Allison explained that the Mercedes engine is now able to run at higher temperatures than in 2019: “Because they have put a lot of work in to make it so that this Power Unit can operate at elevated temperatures compared to the previous year. Being able to run hotter means that for the same everything else, we can make smaller radiators in the car and keep the car cool. One of the reasons why this car is even slimmer than the ones that we have seen in previous seasons. Last year’s chassis would have stuck way out the side of this bodywork, but this year’s one, narrower still, as a result of the investments that HPP made on our behalf in their Power Unit.”
Always pushing to improve! 👊 But how do you find gains when the regulations have remained stable? 👀
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) February 23, 2020
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