Mercedes admit to lacking “really good grasp” of new F1 aero regs

Mercedes are still lacking a “really good grasp” of F1’s new era of aerodynamic regulations, according to Andrew Shovlin.
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG

Since a major regulation shake-up that saw ground-effect style cars return to F1 in 2022, Mercedes have found themselves playing catch up to Red Bull.

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The once-unstoppable Silver Arrows have gone from winning eight consecutive constructors’ titles to claiming just one race victory in the last year and a half as their F1 dominance came to a dramatic end.

Ahead of this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton said that the “mind-blowing” aerodynamics at play underneath the new generation of F1 cars explains why Mercedes’ recovery bid is taking longer than hoped.

And Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Shovlin has now admitted that the team are still struggling to get fully on top of the complex regulation set.

“With the old regulations, which we had a good grasp on, you didn’t need to consider the car in the same dynamic sense,” Shovlin explained.

“You were just saying it’s at a certain roll angle, steer angle, certain ride heights and in doing that you could capture what was going on.

"The flow structures under our car, under every car, are more complicated now and they are more transient. What Lewis was referring to was really the fact that us and other teams would have had to develop their tools to cope with this new set of aero regulations.

“We’re getting to a stage where the correlation is good and we can start to see the effect of changes, but we’re not at the position we were with the regulations in 2020, 2021, where you had a really, really good grasp of everything that was going on.

“So he’s just referring to the fact the way the floor works is more complicated than it used to be.”

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 12, Hungarian Grand Prix, Budapest, Hungary,
George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd…

Shovlin acknowledged the F1 cost cap rules make Mercedes’ bid to rein in Red Bull even more challenging.

"The way the rules are… if you launch a competitive car in a cost cap it is quite difficult for teams to catch up because if you’ve got a competitive car you don’t need to be throwing upgrades at it week in week out,” he said.

“They started in a very, very good place and the fact is our wind tunnel resource is not very different to theirs, it’s not very different to Ferrari’s.

“So that initial performance advantage you start with - and it has come down over the year - but when you look at how big it was in Bahrain and Jeddah it’s always difficult to shut that down in terms of the championship.”

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