James Allison delivers final verdict on the true impact of Mercedes’ ‘zeropods’

James Allison has denied that Mercedes’ sidepods were the reason for their underperformance this year.
George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 23, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit,
George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14. Formula 1 World Championship,…

The ‘zeropod’ idea formed at the start of the ground effect era, at the start of 2022, but Mercedes have ceded domination of Formula 1 to Red Bull ever since.

A more conventional design has been promised for the 2024 W15 car after two seasons following the flawed idea to have a different sidepod design to every other F1 team.

Mercedes technical director Allison was asked by Sky if they regret sticking to their guns over the concept.

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He responded: “Well, I don’t quite see the world the same way you guys do, looking at a sidepod and deciding that’s a concept. 

“We definitely took a path with our car and I would say that’s from the tip of the nose to the very back of the tail which was not a competitive one. 

“The most visually noticeable aspect were our sidepods of course. 

“But by no means the definitive factor. 

“It was not right from front to back and that’s the thing we’ve had to learn and have to deal with. 

“That’s taken us longer than we would have liked but the sidepods are maybe emblematic of a team that took too long to figure out which way was up but by no means the distinguishing feature that sealed our fate.”

Mercedes’ woes were quickly identified when they were edged out at the opening round by Aston Martin, their customer team.

McLaren would later take over as fighting for the podium in the latter half of the season.

Mercedes failed to win a grand prix for the first time since 2011, having won just once last year.

Allison was brought back as their technical director, to replace the outgoing Mike Elliott, as Mercedes aim to get back to winning ways in 2024.

Sky’s David Croft reported optimism from the Mercedes camp at the third-from-last race of the year: “It’s a confidence that the direction is right, that the technical department is fully aligned and working in tandem - chassis and aero, with each other.

“I think the fact that James Allison has come back and taken a more keen interest, after moving away a little bit at the start of the season, and replacing Mike Elliott as technical director before he departed, I think that has gone down very well with Lewis Hamilton.”

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