Mercedes will make ‘a good fist’ of chasing Red Bull in 2024 Formula 1 season, says technical director James Allison

01 Mar, 2024 - 00:03 0 Views
Mercedes will make ‘a good fist’ of chasing Red Bull in 2024 Formula 1 season, says technical director James Allison Mercedes’ technical director James Allison says he’s pleased with the performance of the car so far after three days of testing in Bahrain

eBusiness Weekly

The former champions have designed a much-changed car for the new campaign, which begins live on Sky Sports F1 from Thursday ahead of Saturday’s race at 3pm, and were left encouraged by the initial performance shown by the W15 during the three days of the Bahrain test with drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell reporting that it was already a nicer-handling car than either the 2023 or 2022 versions.

“The bouncing is still a thing that’s going to be a threshold that all the cars in the pit lane will work up against until this generation of car moves on to something different. So there is still some bouncing that we can bury ourselves in or come out of just in pursuit of what the right performance compromise is.

“But the sort of horrid snappy rear end, that is happily not troubling us in the way that it did in the past.

“It’s mostly mechanical changes in the car, but it’s always a marriage between the aerodynamic behaviour through the corner and the suspension.”

While optimistic of a stronger season from a stronger starting point with the W15, Mercedes along with their rivals in the chasing pack have also stayed realistic about their chances of immediately taking the fight to Red Bull this year given the size of the advantage from last year they are all trying to close down.

“I don’t think it’s any surprise to anyone that the cars down there (at Red Bull) have got their noses and perhaps a bit more of their face in front of those of us that are chasing,” said Allison.

“But I think we’ll make a good fist of the chasing and hopefully just develop strongly through the year.”

Hamilton, who completed 172 laps during his time in the W15 at testing to add to Russell’s 189, praised the work that the team had done in designing the new car and agreed they had a better basis from which to add performance through the season.

“It’s work in progress. It’s definitely improved,” said Hamilton, who last won a race in 2021.

“I think everyone has and we’re just going through the same sequence everyone is. The cars are still stiff and bumpy, as we know with this generation of car. But the team has done a great job over the winter.”

Asked if he was more positive about the car than 12 months ago when Mercedes admitted they already knew they were in for a tough year, replied: “(Thursday) was a good day. It felt much more enjoyable to drive and I think, like Lando (Norris, who was sitting alongside him in Friday’s press conference) mentioned, we still also have time to find.

“I think Red Bull clearly are out in the distance, but I think it’s a good platform to work from this year.”

Having moved in a different direction on their car design this year following two disappointing seasons, one aspect of the W15 that sparked early intrigue was its front wing and the presence of a small flap on the top element.

“We just didn’t want a lot of cord at that point,” said Allison of the idea.

“If you look at all wings, their cord varies across all the span on the wing according to what the team thinks is going to work for them. I guess with our little inboard flap, we have to satisfy the rule so we have to have some flap there, but don’t want an enormous one so made a small one.”

Asked if he was surprised no one had thought of it before, the technical chief replied: “I imagine lots of people have thought of it before, maybe they haven’t wanted to have less cord there. But I don’t think people up and down the pit lane would have gone ‘oh my god, we never thought of that’.”

But it was Red Bull’s new RB20 — and the world champions’ revised approach to the sidepods and cooling on its latest car — which gained most attention and interest. Allison himself was intrigued by the approach.

“I would deeply love to be invited into the Red Bull garage and to take their engine cover off and delve around under those sort of snorkely things,” smiled Allison.

“There is definitely a different approach being taken there because what glimpses you see of their cooling system it’s definitely not light and svelte, so they are doing that for a reason and I’d love to know what that reason is — but we haven’t figured it out yet.” — SkySports

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