Why Mercedes steered clear of an F1 car concept revamp despite early struggles

Mercedes opted against revamping its Formula 1 car concept despite its early struggles in 2022 as it felt following other designs would "only get you so far."

Why Mercedes steered clear of an F1 car concept revamp despite early struggles
Listen to this article

Mercedes failed to regularly challenge Red Bull and Ferrari at the front of the pack through the first half of this season as it struggled with porpoising and bouncing on its W13 car.

The team opted for a different design route compared to the rest of the field, chasing a slimline sidepod solution that was dubbed the 'zeropod' when it debuted in Bahrain testing.

As the season progressed, Mercedes gained a better understanding of its car and the issues it faced, paving the way for George Russell to score pole in Hungary at the end of July.

Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin explained Mercedes was "not wanting to go down the route of just copying the fastest car that we could see", instead taking a long-term view with its car concept.

"When you look at the long-term future as a team through a set of regulations, if you don't understand it, copying will only get you so far," Shovlin told Motorsport.com.

"The most sensitive elements of the car's aerodynamics exist underneath it. So the bit that you are least able to copy is the bit that's most important anyway.

"I would say that in the media, the concept of the narrow bodywork was probably a much bigger talking point than it was within the team.

"But we weren't clinging to it through any kind of sort of affection for our own ideas."

George Russell, Mercedes W13

George Russell, Mercedes W13

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Shovlin said the problems Mercedes faced "would not have been solved by changing our bodywork in a hurry" and following other design routes for this year, particularly given the pressure of the budget cap.

"We need to be very careful about where we're where we're spending that [resource] and what we didn't want to do was embark on a project that might take four to six weeks to deliver," Shovlin said.

"We wanted to go step-by-step and check, does what we're doing on the car makes sense with all of our tools and all of our expectations?

"Because we were almost tiptoeing through the early steps of development, just to see if we can make a change to the car and get the expected effect, rather than put all our hopes in motion for something that looks physically different and can suddenly rocket us up the grid."

Mercedes has not ruled out switching car concept for next year and following a Red Bull-style design route, given the majority of teams have opted for its sidepod solution. 

Team principal Toto Wolff said Mercedes had "no specific preference" over what concept it follows, but that it is simply "about having the quickest car."

"We will never copy anybody else, but we may see things on other cars that we deem to be better," Wolff told Motorsport.com.

"So these fundamental questions are being discussed at the moment and [will be] answered by September." 

shares
comments

Related video

Ferrari's F1 2022 engine gains greatest for more than 25 years
Previous article

Ferrari's F1 2022 engine gains greatest for more than 25 years

Next article

Norris: Imola F1 podium still "blows my mind" given McLaren's pace

Norris: Imola F1 podium still "blows my mind" given McLaren's pace
The relaxed home life that helps F1’s Kevin Magnussen to deliver Prime

The relaxed home life that helps F1’s Kevin Magnussen to deliver

The unrelenting grasp of the tax man prompts most racing drivers to move to the likes of Monaco, Switzerland or Dubai. But, as Oleg Karpov found out, Kevin Magnussen is quite happy where he is, thank you very much – at home, with his family, in Denmark

Formula 1
Oct 5, 2022
How Perez has shown what many F1 drivers need from the 2022 season run-in Prime

How Perez has shown what many F1 drivers need from the 2022 season run-in

OPINION: Sergio Perez’s Singapore triumph arrested a big decline in his Formula 1 performances against Max Verstappen at Red Bull since his Monaco win. He now needs to maintain his form to the season’s end, while others are also seeking a change in fortunes.

Formula 1
Oct 5, 2022
How the FIA should punish any breaches of the F1 cost cap Prime

How the FIA should punish any breaches of the F1 cost cap

OPINION: On Wednesday, the FIA will issue F1 teams with compliance certificates if they stuck to the 2021 budget cap. But amid rumours of overspending, the governing body must set a critical precedent. It needs to carefully pick between revisiting the bitterness of Abu Dhabi, a contradictory punishment and ensuring parity for the rest of the ground-effect era

Formula 1
Oct 4, 2022
Singapore Grand Prix Driver Ratings 2022 Prime

Singapore Grand Prix Driver Ratings 2022

A testing return to the Singapore Grand Prix in tricky conditions created plenty of hazards and mistakes for the Formula 1 drivers to fall into. That partly explains a number of low scores, including from a handful of high profile runners, allowing others to take a starring role under the floodlights

Formula 1
Oct 3, 2022
The two key contributors to Leclerc's defeat to Perez in Singapore Prime

The two key contributors to Leclerc's defeat to Perez in Singapore

In a marathon Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix, Sergio Perez’s victory was only assured hours after the race due to a stewards investigation. Throughout the contest the Red Bull driver impressively held off Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in changing conditions to see the Mexican pull out enough of an advantage to negate his post-race penalty

Formula 1
Oct 3, 2022
Why is Oscar Piastri F1's most sought-after rookie? Prime

Why is Oscar Piastri F1's most sought-after rookie?

The Australian rising star is fast, consistent, confident, adaptable and has shown excellent racecraft, but there’s already a taint to his reputation. That hasn’t stopped him becoming the hottest property in this year’s F1 driver market and why McLaren moved fast to snap up the 21-year-old

Formula 1
Sep 30, 2022
The unintended benefit that F1's new engine rules era will deliver Prime

The unintended benefit that F1's new engine rules era will deliver

Formula 1's incoming engine rules shake-up has multiple targets. But it may also solve what has been a bone of contention since the hybrids arrived in 2014. The new plan will allow the series to pump up the volume

Formula 1
Sep 29, 2022
How de Vries made himself impossible to ignore for a belated F1 chance Prime

How de Vries made himself impossible to ignore for a belated F1 chance

Nyck de Vries appeared to have missed his opportunity to break into Formula 1 as he was passed over for more exciting talents who have now become frontrunners and title fighters. But after catching the eye outside of the F1 sphere, before his stunning impromptu grand prix debut in Italy, will it lead to a delayed full-time race seat?

Formula 1
Sep 29, 2022