F1 champion’s Mercedes ‘anxiety’: “Is the aero department missing a trick?”

Damon Hill has questioned whether Mercedes’ aerodynamics department is “missing a trick” as the team looks to close the gap to runaway F1 champions Red Bull.
F1 champion’s Mercedes ‘anxiety’: “Is the aero department missing a trick?”

Red Bull and Mercedes have experienced vastly contrasting fortunes since their epic 2021 title battle, with the former dominating F1’s new era of regulations by sweeping to back-to-back drivers’ and constructors’ world championships.

Meanwhile, Mercedes have managed just one win since the start of 2022, having produced a flawed car design concept that was initially carried over into 2023, before it was abandoned from the Monaco Grand Prix.

The eight-time constructors’ world champions continue to lag behind Red Bull but remain hopeful about reducing the deficit over a crucial winter, in which they are expected make a fundamental design overhaul for 2024.

But 1996 F1 world champion Hill doubts whether Mercedes fully understand the current set of ground-effect based aerodynamic regulations.

“My anxiety is this, which is that for a long time, Mercedes' dominance really was down to their power unit. They had the best power unit for a very long time," Hill told the Sky Sports F1 Podcast.

"And the aerodynamics were always slightly different to Red Bull's. And if you remember towards the end of the previous Formula 1 regulations, they persisted with their relatively flat looking rake on the car, whereas Red Bull were absolutely huge.

"They led the way and everyone started following Red Bull with this very high rake. It looked like a rat running along the car. It had a very high back.

"But Mercedes stuck persistently or doggedly with their with their other… they looked like they were running a different aero concept on their car in the previous regulations, and then along come a new set of regulations…

"What I'm saying is, is the Mercedes aero department missing a trick here? And they've lost quite a few good aero people to other teams as well, over time."

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14 and Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing RB19. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21,
George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14 and Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull…

Fellow Sky pundit Naomi Schiff also expressed doubts about Mercedes, pointing to the fact they have recently been outperformed by customer teams McLaren and Aston Martin.

"You've got to ask how has a team like McLaren, who from at least the power unit perspective is a customer team of Mercedes, how have they so dramatically been able to turn it around?” Schiff said.

“How were Aston at the beginning of the season, so dramatically able to turn it around and why is a team like Mercedes still struggling?

"Obviously, they didn't bite the bullet at the beginning of the year or during the winter period last year to completely change their concept, and I think there are some major regrets about that because they could be much further forward today.

"But when you're essentially working on a mechanical base that is faulty and you're just trying to make the best of a situation, it's not going to be great.

"At the end of the day, they're a team who's won multiple world championships. They know how to build a car. I have some faith that they will be able over this winter to turn their situation around. But then again, as I say, Red Bull is so far up the road and they're doing the same thing over the winter period.

"So it's always going to be a question mark to see where they end up next year."

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