Mercedes managed to make a pace gain of one-quarter of a second simply by redeveloping the sidepods on its new Formula 1 car for the 2018 season, according to technical chief James Allison.

Mercedes opted for evolution rather than revolution with its new car for 2018, the W09 Hybrid, as it goes in search of a fifth straight set of F1 championships this year.

Allison explained in a video for Mercedes how the team was able to find significant chunks of time simply by redeveloping areas of bodywork, with a focus on the sidepods offering a quarter-second gain.

"We’ve done an awful lot of work down there to try and make that car really, really slender," Allison explained. "If you compared it to [the W08] you can just see the difference. You can see that the bodywork bulges out around about where the engine and exhaust pack is.

“On the new car this is a much, much more slender thing. It doesn’t look like much of a difference, but actually when you add it all up that is something like a quarter of a second just there.

“It doesn’t look like much of a difference but it was actually a huge amount of work - a lot of hair got lost in that project - but the end result is something which is pretty to look at, but much, much more importantly, is an awful lot quicker.

“After that you start to get into things that are much more subtle, and you need to be something of a petrolhead or an anorak to really notice. But the sharp-eyed [fans] have probably noticed the front suspension looks quite a lot different to last year’s. The wishbones have been raised, that’s something that has been a trend on F1 cars in the last few years.

“Raising those front wishbones brings better aerodynamic performance. It’s a big structural challenge but it’s definitely something that brings you more downforce and a quicker car."

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