Mercedes still planning F1 car and engine upgrades to boost hopes

Mercedes has revealed it is planning to bring aerodynamic and engine improvements for the next races that it hopes can help it close the gap to Formula 1 rival Red Bull.

While team boss Toto Wolff said after its defeat in last weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix that the outfit’s development focus was fully on 2022’s rules, it has clarified that it does not mean that developments to the current W12 have stopped completely.

Technical director James Allison has revealed that Mercedes still has upgrades that have been under development for some time, plus the German car manufacturer’s engine division is also looking at what tweaks it can make to power unit management to help there too.

Speaking to the F1 Nation Podcast, Allison said: “We have a reasonable number of things that are going to make our car faster in the coming races, and let's hope they prove sufficient.”

Asked how his remarks contrasted with Wolff’s comments regarding there being no further upgrades to the current car, Allison said: “I don't think those two things are at odds with each other. And I don’t think Toto has said precisely that.

“What Toto points out is that next year's rules are a big and hairy affair, and that they demand a huge amount of our attention. So most of the focus of our factory has switched over to next year, the performance discovery for next year.

“But that doesn't mean that there aren't things still in the food-chain from prior to that focus switch. And furthermore, it isn't all of the factory. And furthermore, we're only one of two factories, there's also the PU factory and there is a little bit more to come also from the PU.

“So there's some more aerodynamic change in the offing. A little bit on the PU, we hope, on the delivery side, and just a few things that are not quite as tidy as we would wish, that we still have got the opportunity to put right while this season is still very much alive and hot.”

Allison added that Mercedes’ challenge in finding performance gains with its current car had been made more difficult by the new floor rules for this year, which had cut back on downforce.

“Ever since the rule changes that were introduced aerodynamically for looking after the tyres, we have found it hellishly hard to find the sort of performance gain rate that we did previously prior to those rules," he explained. "So that has made our life trickier than we wished it to be.”

James Allison, Technical Director, Mercedes AMG

James Allison, Technical Director, Mercedes AMG

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Allison also revealed that the ‘wacky’ setup which trackside engineering chief Andrew Shovlin talked about after Styria was related to a mechanical aspect aimed at making the car performance better over both single lap and long runs.

“It was probably just sort of a bit of a colourful expression on Shov's part,” he said about it being ‘wacky. “It is a little different to how we normally run a car, mechanically. Aerodynamically it was very similar, ride height wise very similar.

“But [it was] just changing the roll distribution front to rear. That was different to how we normally would do it, seeking a better balance between single lap performance and long run performance.

“Whether we have got that compromise exactly as we would wish it, that sort of goes towards the list of unanswered questions that we're going to have an opportunity to answer by going back to the same track a second weekend running.”

He added: “We think it's quicker, but it's not without its compromises. So whether there is a better mousetrap, we'll find out.”

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