Why Mercedes won’t ‘tear things up’ with wholesale F1 car revamp

Mercedes are not considering a wholesale revamp of their 2023 F1 car despite the team’s disappointing start to the season. 
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F

After making a poor start at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix and following scathing comments from Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes chief Toto Wolff admitted the Silver Arrows would need to ditch their current concept in order to return to winning ways in F1. 

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Mercedes are already working on a raft of small upgrades to be introduced across the coming races in a bid to develop their troubled W14 and close the gap to championship-leaders Red Bull. 

But returning technical director James Allison, who has swapped jobs with Mike Elliott as part of a major reorganisation, has ruled out Mercedes completely overhauling their car for next season.

“I don’t think any of us would ever consider a wholesale revamp clean sheet a good or prosperous approach,” Allison said after Friday practice at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix

“If the rules change then of course you have to change with them. But engineering is about iteration. 

“In all likelihood, if you tear things up, you are going to throw away an awful amount of baby, along with a small amount of bathwater because all of these cars, from the top to the bottom of the grid, are unbelievably good cars. 

“It’s merely a question of how competitive are you? Are you the best in the whole world? And necessarily, you are going to use the platform you have and you are going to choose the paths forward that allow it to get better in the fastest possible way. 

“Never would you tear things up and say ‘no, enough with that, let’s change and do something completely different’.” 

James Allison (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 Chief Technical Officer. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 4, Azerbaijan Grand Prix,
James Allison (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 Chief Technical Officer. Formula 1…

Allison rejected the notion that the influence of his return will not be felt until next season’s W15. 

“It’s many hundreds of people, thousands of people in some cases - you don’t have one person’s hand on a car,” he explained. “That’s not how it works at all. 

“Each person puts their shoulder to the wheel and if the whole place is well set-up and well organised that wheel turns more effectively. 

“Even the great Adrian Newey [Red Bull design chief] would probably tell you that if you pinned him down hard enough. 

“It is a very big team effort and when I say that Mike and I would be a slightly stronger pairing the other way around, it means that we’re able to put our respective shoulders to that wheel more slightly more effectively and help it turn just a little bit faster. 

“I hope that shoulder that I’m placing on the wheel will help from this point forward and not a W14, W15 thing. It’s just a big team effort, the whole thing.” 

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 4, Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Baku Street Circuit,
George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd…

Asked about the specific improvements Mercedes are looking for, Allison said: “We’ll just be trying to add downforce to the car, try not to add too much drag. 

“We’ll be trying to improve the balance of the car. I think probably there isn’t a car out there with a perfect balance. 

“Ours is very much less than perfect and we’ll be trying to work on that, aerodynamically, and in terms of platform control with the suspension. 

“There’s no great revelations there. All the things that will make our cars faster will make every car on the grid faster. 

“The trick is to make sure we are bringing them quickly enough that we make a relative improvement on our competitors, but there’s magic to that. It’s not particularly mysterious.”

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