Mercedes says sticking to long wheelbase "a no-brainer"

Mercedes technical director James Allison believes the team has made the right call by sticking to the long-wheelbase and low-rake concept for its 2018 Formula 1 car.

The longer wheelbase of the Mercedes has usually been linked to the team's struggles on twistier circuits over the past seasons.

While other teams have taken a different path, Allison insists that there was more to be gained by continuing to develop ideas that work well, and that the team understands, rather than spreading R&D resources too thinly by exploring a major change.

"The long wheelbase is something we decided very early on was an asset to us, and I'm pretty sure we're still right on that," said Allison.

"That was a very easy decision because it's much, much easier having a decision like that under your belt, because then you're not running two windtunnel programmes with two wheelbases, two models, two different things.

"You can be pretty certain the gains you got last year will be inherited by the car this year. If you're pretty sure the wheelbase is an asset, then carrying it over is an absolute no-brainer."

Allison says that changing direction is a bigger risk for a pacesetter like Mercedes than for the opposition teams, who have to try different things in an effort to close the gap.

"The aerodynamic detail on the cars is considerable. There is much, much more opportunity to make them worse than make them better.

"Even if you wanted to pursue a new and different concept, you expect to find a fair amount of loss before you get back into positive territory. And that concept for us looked like a change that would spend too much time in negative territory before it might eventually perhaps go positive.

"You've got to make a judgement about whether you're going to gamble on going off into negative territory and then coming back, or just marching up the already pretty steep slope that your own concept is working on.

"We chose the latter over the former. If you're a car that's sitting a long way down the grid, then you have less to lose by changing direction. You know the path you're on is not right."

The new W09 is notable for the tight packaging of the rear end, and Allison was keen to thank Mercedes engine boss Andy Cowell and his staff for the role they played in ensuring that the bodywork could be wrapped so tightly around the power unit.

"Andy's men utterly bent over backwards to help us achieve that. We in Brackley had to do quite a lot of work, but the centre of gravity was in Andy's territory, and furthermore, the risk…

"We've all got the same amount of skin in the game, because it's whether the car prospers or not.

"But Andy's guys had to work on things that had much longer lead times, and if we had taken bad decisions, recovering from it in Andy's world would have been very hard. And therefore it's a much braver project in Brixworth than it was in Brackley.

"So we feel very fortunate that they were willing to tale on our request. The outcome has been something that we are pretty pleased with, and also that the project, while tough, was actually quite good fun.

"The end of it is something that's delivered a non-trivial amount of performance to the car, and looks neat as well."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Teams Mercedes
Article type Breaking news