Mercedes technical head James Allison says the cuts for the 2021 F1 season has taken them back to 2019 performance level, as DAS will be missed by them.
To help mitigate the growing performance of the F1 cars from 2020 to 2021 and sync it with the tyres and the circuits, the teams and the FIA decided to lower the downforce levels for this year by making cuts in four key areas of the car.
These cuts were made to help Pirelli in preparing a durable tyres for 2021, which is a carry over of the 2019 tyres. In a special video interview, Allison has revealed that the latest windtunnel numbers show that the performance has gone back to 2019 level.
“Many of the parts from W11 has been inherited in W12 as per the decision taken last year,” started Allison. “That’s been weird feeling for the organisation that familiar feeling of a new car in all its glory. I say it still has been intense because although bits of this car has carried over, the challenge of getting it ready for the new season has been every bit difficult than it normally is because a lot has changed.
“Probably, the intense and difficult thing for us is to react to the aerodynamic changes that come for 2021. There was a concern that if we left these aerodynamics on the car unchanged, then the performance would just keep increasing as it is doing for number of seasons now, it will reach a level where the cars would simply outgrow the tyres and perhaps even aspects of the F1 circuits.
“So there was a good need to bring the performance down a bit on the car, so that they would go into the new season in 2021 with the mechanical package designed for 2020 and be confident that the performance of the car would be matched to the physical infrastructure of the car was built around,” summed up Allison, as he then dwelled deep into the changes for 2021.
“Four quite significant aerodynamics was made last year in anticipation of this new season,” started Allison. “First and foremost, there has been a triangular cut-out to the edges of the floor in front of the rear wheels which when you see it you’ll think, ‘That doesn’t look that big,’ but on its own in its rawest form if you just chop that area off your car it’ll take about a second a lap away from the car.
“Then added to that first change three others came. The first was that the little fins and flicks that were on the rear brake duct were reduced in their span just by a few millimetres, but again they were very powerful devices, and that change lost a lot of performance from the car.
“At the back of the car underneath in the diffuser area the fences that you can see if you peer up the back end of the car, they were reduced in height so that they can’t go as near to the ground, they can’t create as good of an aerodynamic seal to the ground as they did previously. And again, they shed a bunch of downforce when they are trimmed upwards.
“And then finally the front-end of the floor as you approach where the bargeboards are if you looked at the 2020 versions of those floors you see that they look a bit like a venetian blind with lots and lots of slots, an aerodynamic feature there that generates downforce and all of those slots have been removed for 2021.
“The combination of those four effects in their rawest form just cut-off and trim back in a way that the rules require brings the performance of the car way back to sort of somewhere near 2019 levels. It’s been our challenge over the weeks and months since those rules were set in stone to try to recover as much of the performance as possible. That has been quite an entertaining ride in the wind tunnel and in CFD to try and make sure that we get that performance as far as possible back onto the car,” summed up Allison, as he then added on not having Dual Axis Steering in 2021.
“The 2021 season is also that we sadly say goodbye to our friend from 2020 which was the DAS system,” said Allison. “It is a shame for us because that was a useful thing on our car and brought us good performance in many tracks last year. It is a little bit of sadness that we say goodbye to it but that’s the rule and we go into 2021 with a conventional steering system like everybody else.”
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