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Mercedes F1 W15 Debut Wolff Shares Insights

Mercedes F1’s W15 Debut: Wolff Shares Insights

21/02/2024

In Bahrain, Toto Wolff discussed Mercedes F1’s W15 debut, highlighting a positive team mood and ongoing development efforts.

Speaking at the press conference between today’s two sessions in Bahrain, Toto Wolff did not disclose much about Mercedes F1’s debut with its significantly modified W15 but suggested the team was fairly positive about the program’s progress.

“The mood in the garage is positive,” Wolff stated.

“We had a car in 2023 that was difficult to understand, and sometimes it was unclear why it behaved the way it did.”

“This season’s aim was to have a stable platform from which we can truly develop. Let’s see in a few days if we have achieved that.”

“It’s very hard to say. We had a filming day yesterday and some aerodynamic tests this morning, so lap times are not relevant, but so far, feedback from our drivers was that ‘yes, this is an F1 car we can work with, it’s encouraging.'”

Mercedes F1’s unusual front wing is among the most talked-about innovations for 2024 so far – inevitably raising questions about its legality.

The rules specify that front wing elements must be spaced 5mm to 15mm apart when joining, and the rearmost part of each element (except the rearmost one) “must not be visible from above.”

This means front wing elements must essentially resemble stairs from a top view. Mercedes found a way around these rules by bolting what appears to be a thread on the rearmost edge of the second flap, extending the third and final flap along the rear edge of the second flap.

It’s a clever way to reduce the front wing’s surface area, i.e., reduce drag, while keeping the number of flaps.

“Anything put on a car follows an exchange with the FIA throughout the process. It’s not just a clever idea, then you test it and wonder if it could be challenged. It’s a lengthy dialogue process that takes place over the winter. I think we’re in a good position regarding this element.”

But given that Red Bull has introduced significant innovations with its RB20, should Mercedes worry about its rival getting closer to the zero sidepod concept?

“The truth is, you don’t know; each team follows its own development direction and tries to generate lap time in the virtual world, in simulators, and in the wind tunnel.”

“And they’re going to put that on the car, regardless of what other teams are doing.”

“We moved away from our zero sidepod concept and some features because we felt it didn’t aid the car’s performance, and that’s why we opted for something that at first glance seems more conventional on the bodywork, and we believe to be a better platform.”

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