In 2022 and 2023, Mercedes F1 experienced its most challenging seasons in terms of problem-solving, dealing with a car that was difficult to understand and operate. James Allison, the team’s Technical Director, discusses how his engineers tackled the problems and the approach to solving them, moving away from the conventional notion of “concept” often mentioned.
“In the mind of a designer or an F1 performance specialist, the concept actually has nothing to do with the car,” explains Allison.
“It’s about a process where you decide what a good car looks like and what a bad car looks like.”
“It’s your methodology for sifting through all the many things you could put on the car and only finding those that you really think will improve lap time, it’s a method. The car itself is just the outcome of this method.”
“So, when you talk to us about concept, we hear ‘what, you think our wind tunnel weighting system wasn’t good?’ That’s what concept means to us, and the car simply stands out when we apply this process and concept.”
“Of course, the last two years have forced us to adjust our approach and methodology, our concept, if you will, and as a result, the material that comes out will necessarily be different.”
“It’s defined by different decisions and different weightings of what’s important and what’s not. We get excited about the final result, but in reality, it’s the approach that determines our fate.”
Mercedes F1 Season Evaluation
Allison once again refutes the idea that the sidepods of the W13 and W14 were the problem in Mercedes’ lack of results over the past two years. He clarifies that it was the car as a whole that was problematic, not just this more visible part.
“I don’t see the world the same way you do, that is, looking at a sidepod and deciding that it’s a concept. We definitely took a path with our car, and I’d say it’s from the tip of the nose to the back of the car, which was not a competitive path.”
“The most visible aspect of this trajectory was our sidepods, but they were by no means the deciding factor. It wasn’t right from the front to the back, and that’s what we had to learn and manage, and it took us longer than we would have liked.”
“But the sidepods might be emblematic of a team that took a bit too long to understand what needed to be done, but they were by no means the distinctive feature that sealed our fate.”
2024 Mercedes F1 Season Evaluation: A New Perspective. 2024 Mercedes F1 Season Evaluation: A New Perspective.
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