No shame in copying Red Bull F1 car concept, says Mercedes
The German car manufacturer is currently evaluating a change of direction for its W14 car after realising that its ‘zeropod’ idea is not going to deliver the performance levels hoped for.
Having settled on a change of path, Mercedes has talked of promising results from its CFD and wind tunnel work which it hopes it can unleash in the early stages of the European season.
While some of the early focus of Mercedes’ changes will revolve around the sidepods, the final concept shift will go much deeper than that and involve elements like its set-up window and ride height.
With most of the grid appearing to be converging on the Red Bull downwash concept that suits the current regulations, the likelihood is that Mercedes too will shift in that direction, even if it is not a direct copy.
Although in the past Mercedes felt that its best hope of being the fastest in F1 was by pioneering its own design concepts, Wolff has suggested that its critical decision now is on going simply down the route that delivers the best results.
And if that means committing to the Red Bull design, then he is clear that the team will do that, as he even cheekily suggested he would have no qualms about putting one of his rivals’ stickers on the car as a credit.
“I think at this stage, we have no dogmatism of how the car should look like,” explained Wolff. “It just needs to be the quickest possible race car.
“And if that car looks like a Red Bull, or like SpaceX, I don’t care, it just needs to be quick.
“And if it’s a Red Bull, we will put a little bull somewhere with a sticker, and I will have no shame if it’s quick.”
Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG
Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images
Wolff suggests that the lessons of Aston Martin, which abandoned its own original idea at the start of 2022 to go down the Red Bull route, show the potential that there is to make improvements after committing to a change of direction.
“Definitely what Aston Martin has done proves that, within six or seven months, you can gain so much lap time that it makes you play very much at the front. So that is good to see.
“It is good to see for all of us that you should never write off a season if these kinds of steps can be done.”
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While much of the focus on the new direction has revolved around the sidepods, Wolff says that the key factor is the holistic approach to where the car is run relative to the track and how it is set up.
“I think the biggest changes that we made is actually looking at where we want to have the car set up in its sweet spot,” he said.
“We’ve been too low last year, we’ve been too high this year. And now we believe we know what to land on.
“Obviously everything else follows in terms of floor, and bodywork that you want to achieve. So I don’t want to sound too foolishly optimistic, but at least we see low-hanging fruit with things that are encouraging.”