Mercedes: 2021 F1 cars 'near 2019 performance levels'

Mercedes technical director James Allison believes that Formula 1 aerodynamic rule changes mandated for this season will initially trim performance to 2019 levels.

Allison says that trying to recover the lost downforce in the wind tunnel and via CFD has been “an entertaining ride.”

The changes were introduced to reduce loadings on Pirelli’s tyres by negating the natural increase in downforce that teams would have made with their 2021 cars, given that aero development is not restricted by the freeze that impacts other aspects of the package.

An initial change to the floor was followed by three smaller tweaks that were agreed late in 2020.

“Four quite significant aerodynamic changes were made last year in anticipation of this new season,” Allison said in a Mercedes video.

“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.”

Read Also:

Allison says that what appear to be four relatively minor changes add up to a significant overall cut in downforce.

“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.”

The changes were mandated because it was anticipated that Pirelli’s 2019 tyres would be carried over for a third season in 2021.

However in the end there was a change to the construction for this year, in an attempt to make the tyres more durable, giving the teams another variable with which to deal, including a revised profile on the fronts.

The change in construction also means that a set of 2021 tyres is around 3kg heavier.

“We got a first glimpse of these new tyres back in Portimao in 2020,” said Allison.

“We've had two other occasions where we could test them, and they were in Bahrain and then in Abu Dhabi the last race of last year.

“That's not really very much opportunity to take on board a new tyre and get ready for a new season with it because these tyres will affect the way that the car performs, and they affect the way that you have to design the aerodynamic platform, and the way that you have to set up the car.

“So it's been a big challenge for us to try and stretch out that testing data that we had at the tracks last year and to try and make as much as we can out of the tyre data supplied to us by Pirelli, so that we would be ready to really optimise the car around the characteristics of these new tyres.”

shares
comments
Sainz makes maiden Ferrari appearance in Fiorano test
Previous article

Sainz makes maiden Ferrari appearance in Fiorano test

Next article

Where F1's calendar shuffling hurts its new drivers

Where F1's calendar shuffling hurts its new drivers
Load comments
The factors that could negate Red Bull's practice gap to Mercedes Prime

The factors that could negate Red Bull's practice gap to Mercedes

Mercedes led the way in practice for Formula 1’s first race in Jeddah, where Red Bull was off the pace on both single-lap and long runs. But, if Max Verstappen can reverse the results on Saturday, factors familiar in motorsport’s main electric single-seater category could be decisive in another close battle with Lewis Hamilton...

Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer Prime

Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer

Earning praise from rivals has been a welcome sign that Lando Norris is becoming established among Formula 1's elite. But the McLaren driver is confident that his team's upward curve can put him in the mix to contend for titles in the future, when he's hoping the compliments will be replaced by being deemed an equal adversary

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2021
What Ferrari still needs to improve to return to F1 title contention Prime

What Ferrari still needs to improve to return to F1 title contention

After a disastrous 2020 in which it slumped to sixth in the F1 constructors' standings, Ferrari has rebounded strongly and is on course to finish third - despite regulations that forced it to carryover much of its forgettable SF1000 machine. Yet while it can be pleased with its improvement, there are still steps it must make if 2022 is to yield a return to winning ways

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2021
How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations Prime

How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations

OPINION: The pressure is firmly on Red Bull and Mercedes as Formula 1 2021 embarks on its final double-header. How the respective teams deal with that will be a crucial factor in deciding the outcome of the drivers' and constructors' championships, as Motorsport.com's technical consultant and ex-McLaren F1 engineer Tim Wright explains.

Formula 1
Dec 1, 2021
How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison Prime

How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison

He’s had a hand in world championship-winning Formula 1 cars for Benetton, Renault and Mercedes, and was also a cog in the Schumacher-Ferrari axis. Having recently ‘moved upstairs’ as Mercedes chief technical officer, James Allison tells Stuart Codling about his career path and why being axed by Benetton was one of the best things that ever happened to him.

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2021
The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback Prime

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback

It’s easy to look at Robert Kubica’s second Formula 1 career and feel a sense of sadness that he didn’t reach the heights for which he seemed destined. But as Ben Anderson discovered, performance and results are almost meaningless in this context – something more fundamental and incredible happened…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2021
The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren Prime

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren

From being lapped by his own teammate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

Formula 1
Nov 26, 2021
The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title Prime

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title

As the battle continues to rage over the F1 2021 drivers' championship, teams up and down the grid are turning their attentions to the prize money attributed to each position in the constructors' standings. But F1's sliding scale rules governing wind tunnel and CFD use will soften the blow for those who miss out on the top places

Formula 1
Nov 25, 2021