Mercedes technical head James Allison has opened up on some of the hidden secrets of its 2020 F1 challenger, the W11, in a video.
Whether on track or off it, Mercedes continue to impress the masses with their attention to details and openness. Throughout the 2019 F1 season, they had Pure PitWall, where they answered questions about their race weekend, as to how it panned out to be.
In a similar tone, Mercedes has recorded a video of the changes it has brought on its W11 as technical director Allison dissects some of the hidden secrets – although it doesn’t talks about the new Dual Axis Steering device, which was first seen during F1 pre-season test.
“One of the really lovely thing about working as an engineer, is that every F1 season casts its own challenges,” started Allison. “Last year in 2019, the challenge was how to with the breath-taking headlong rush of figuring out how to re-invent the front corner aerodynamics after a very late change in regulations.
“In F1 2021, a completely different challenge awaits us, where a completely new set of regulations is going to arrive and where we have the terrifying and yet exhilarating thrill of picking our way through virgin design space, trying to avoid the man traps and seeking the treasure that is hidden within those regulations.
“And this year in F1 2020, a completely different set of challenges all over again. The challenge being, in a year where regulations are completely stable and where the tyres haven’t changed one little bit, how do we take last year’s best car, the 2019 Mercedes, how do we take that car and produce something properly competitive when the regulations haven’t changed.
“The temptation for Mercedes was just to keep polishing that one, after all it finished the season really strongly and it was developing very fast all the way through the year, so there was still lots of opportunity to make that one quicker That conservative approach was very, very tempting. But in the end, we decided that wouldn’t be enough.
“We were feeling the breath of our opponents on our shoulders. We know their hunger and we know that if we don’t do something impressive with this car, they will eat us up and leave us behind. So, we decided that we would make a car that was aggressive.
“Despite the fact that there is no change in the regulations, we would take every part of the car and see if we could challenge ourselves to make it better. I can’t do justice in a short piece like this to all the hundreds things we have done, but I’ll tell you some stuff about the front, the middle and the back of this Mercedes W11 car, the areas in which we have invested to try to give us an opportunity both to hit the ground in Melbourne with a car that is a big step forward, and also to have a platform that will keep developing strongly through the year.
“So at the front we have changed a lot of the structure of the front corners. We have made it much harder for ourselves structurally, much harder to take the forces, but we have rearranged the detail inside the wheels and in the way the suspension goes into those wheels so that we have more aerodynamic opportunity in the front end. It’s a difficult project but one which has given us good aerodynamic gains.
“In the middle of the Mercedes W11 car we have couple of things, first of all, something which is familiar to the sport, because actually, many teams have already adopted this. And that is we have moved the side impact structure from its upper position that we have had for the last three seasons, we have moved to the lower position, something which many teams have already done and something which we have been watching on from the far, but this year we decided to make the structural investment to pull that into our car and to bank the aerodynamic gain that comes with it.
“Also, in the middle of the car, a huge-huge effort gone by Mercedes HPP to put more performance into the PU. They have managed to have a really good winter, finding lots and lots of horses from the power unit, many years into a regulation with fixed fuel flow, this year they have really managed to find a really impressive upgrade on power.
“Not just more horsepower. They have also for the third straight year bent over backwards to give us a power unit that gives opportunities in chassis side to develop better aerodynamics because they have put a lot of work in to make it so that this power unit can co-operate at elevated temperatures compared to the previous years.
“Being able to run hotter means that for the same everything else, we can make smaller radiators in the car and keep the car cool, one of the reasons why this car is even slimmer than the ones that we have seen in previous seasons. Last year’s chassis would have stuck way out the side of this bodywork, but this year’s one, narrower still, as a result of the investments that HPP made on our behalf in their power unit.
“And finally on the back of the Mercedes W11 car, you wouldn’t see probably in the camera shots, because we are very coy about it, you’re not going to see all the detail, but I can tell you that the rear suspension on this car is extremely adventurous. We have put into the back, specifically on the lower rear wishbone, we have put a new geometry in there, a new geometry that gives us more aerodynamic opportunity, allows us to get more downforce on the car.
“Taking together of all the investments that I have been describing, none of them are easy and nearly all of them are structural compromise, where we had to put weight on the front, in the middle and the back of the car, in order to realise these gains and that weight has to be paid for by hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of small innovations by other designers, who have managed to save the weight that’s allowed us to by each of these investments.
“But these investments have given us good winter. We have got a car here that is streaks ahead of that one in terms of downforce. We have got a car here whose development slope has kicked up, is steeper than the one that we finished last year’s with, in that very, very good car from 2019. And we’ve got a car here that we hope will be fertile ground to develop strongly all the way through the 2020 season.”
Here’s it in video form from Mercedes:
Here’s what FIA has done for 2021 to close-off Mercedes DAS-like system
Here’s what James Allison and Lewis Hamilton said about Mercedes DAS
Here’s the details from first F1 test