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W15 Mercedes Driver Bias

W15 Debate: Does Mercedes Favor One Driver?

29/02/2024

Analyzing whether the Mercedes W15 is designed to favor one driver over another, amidst the team’s effort to balance speed and driver feedback.

Political games have started at Mercedes F1: George Russell stated that the W15 was “designed around Lewis Hamilton” and his needs… even as the Briton will leave Mercedes at the end of the year.

Lewis Hamilton is said to have requested and obtained a more rearward seating position in the W15, which was not necessarily to George Russell’s liking.

However, George Russell’s comments were downplayed, even denied, by… James Allison, the team’s technical director himself, in a press conference in Bahrain.

Does this W15 suit one driver more than another at Mercedes?

“Every year, we strive to make the car faster using all the tools at our disposal.”

“Drivers have their opinions, and we do our best to consider them.”

“But they are only a small factor in deciding the direction (of development) because almost all the factors that make a car fast are not related to where the driver wants to sit and that sort of thing.”

“So, drivers are just one part of the feedback considered in the whole.”

Allison praises Red Bull for its risk-taking

James Allison brought up another topic, this time external to the Mercedes team: the design of the RB20.

A very surprising design, some would say humiliating for Mercedes: because the Milton Keynes team seems to be moving towards a “zero sidepod” solution. A development path that Mercedes explored first, before abandoning it outright, to eventually adopt a concept close to last year’s Red Bull!

Like Toto Wolff, James Allison wants to congratulate Red Bull for its risk-taking.

“Well, I mostly thought that when a team is leading as they have been, it’s quite easy to rest on one’s laurels.”

“I said kudos to them for being willing to do something that is not a mere iteration of the previous season. That’s what I mostly thought.”

Does James Allison feel almost jealous of being copied?

“No, I don’t think so.”

“Even if you take one team’s engine cover off the grid, and place it on any other car… it wouldn’t make a huge difference.”

“What will be interesting is to see what’s under that engine cover, what all that volume is used for.”

“We changed the design of the sidepods last year… Especially so we wouldn’t have to die wondering whether it was something that was harming us or not – ultimately, it didn’t make a huge difference.”

Regardless of whether it’s a revolutionary design or not, Red Bull remains the reference, the team to catch up with, or even to imitate, for Mercedes F1.

“I would say that from the first day of winter testing, we knew we would find solutions to our problems at the rear of the car, which was sometimes unpredictable.”

“But we also knew from the first day of testing that Red Bull was ahead. So, we will be in ‘chase’ mode for the foreseeable future.”

“Today, we have a car that, as expected, has more aerodynamic support than last year, after putting in a tremendous amount of effort to achieve it.”

W15 Mercedes Driver Bias. W15 Mercedes Driver Bias

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