One of the really lovely things
about working as an engineer in Formula One is that every season
casts up its own challenges. Last year in 2019, the challenge
was how to cope with the breath-taking headlong rush of figuring out how
to reinvent the front corner aerodynamics after a very late change in the regulations.
In 2021, a completely different challenge awaits us, where a completely new set of
regulations is going to arrive and where we have the terrifying and yet
exhilarating thrill of picking our way through virgin design space,
trying to avoid the man traps and seeking the treasure that is hidden
within those regulations. And this year, 2020, a completely different set of
challenges all over again. The challenge being, in a year where the regulations
are completely stable and where the tyres haven’t changed one little
bit, how do we take last year’s best car, the 2019 Mercedes car, how do we
take that car and produce something properly competitive when the regulations
haven’t changed. The temptation for us was just to keep polishing that one,
after all it finished the season really strongly and it was developing very fast
all the way through the year, so there was still lots of opportunity to make
that one quicker. That conservative approach was very, very tempting.
But in the end, we decided that wouldn’t be enough. We were feeling
the breath of our opponents on our shoulders. We know their hunger and we know
that if we don’t do something impressive with this car, they will eat us up and
leave us behind. So, we decided that we would make a car that was
aggressive. Despite the fact that there is no change in the regulations,
we would take every part of the car and see if we could challenge ourselves
to make it better. And I can’t do justice in a short piece like this to all the hundreds
of things we have done, but I’ll tell you some stuff about the front, the middle
and the back of this car, the areas in which we have invested to try to give
us an opportunity both to hit the ground in Melbourne with a car
that is a big step forward, and also to have a platform that will keep developing
strongly through the year. So, at the front first of all, at the front we have
changed a lot of the structure of the front corners. We have made it much
harder for ourselves structurally, much harder to take the forces, but we
have rearranged the detail inside the wheels and in the way the suspension
goes into those wheels so that we have more aerodynamic opportunity in the
front end. A difficult project but one which has given us good aerodynamic gains.
In the middle of the car, a couple of things. First of all, something which is pretty
familiar to the sport, because actually many teams have already adopted this.
And that is we have moved the side impact structure from its upper position
that we have had for the last three seasons, we have moved it to a
lower position here. Something which many teams have already done and
something which we have been watching on from afar, but this year we decided
to make the structural investment to pull that into our car and to bank the
aerodynamic gain that comes with it. Also, in the middle of the car, a huge,
huge effort gone in by HPP to put more performance into the PU.
They have managed to have a really good winter, finding lots and lots of
fresh horses from this Power Unit, many years into a regulation with
fixed fuel flow, this year they have managed to find a really impressive
upgrade in the power. Not just more horsepower. They have also for the
third year straight bent over backwards to give us a Power Unit that gives
opportunities on the chassis side to develop better aerodynamics.
Because they have put a lot of work in to make it so that this Power Unit
can operate at elevated temperatures compared to the previous year. Being
able to run hotter means that for the same everything else, we can make
smaller radiators in the car and keep the car cool. One of the reasons
why this car is even slimmer than the ones that we have seen in
previous seasons. Last year’s chassis would have stuck way out the side of this
bodywork, but this year’s one, narrower still, as a result of the investments that HPP made on our behalf in their Power Unit.
And then finally at the back of the car, probably in these camera shots, because
we are a little bit coy about it, you’re not going to see all the detail, but I can
tell you that the rear suspension on this car is extremely adventurous.
We have put into the back, specifically on the lower rear wishbone, we have
put a new geometry in there, a new geometry that gives us more
aerodynamic opportunity, allows us to get more downforce on the car. Taken
together, all these investments that I have been describing, none of them are easy and
nearly all of them are a structural compromise where we have had to put weight on the front,
in the middle and at the back of the car in order to realise these gains and that
weight has had to be paid for by hundreds and hundreds and hundreds
of small innovations by other designers who have managed to save the weight
that’s allowed us to buy each of these investments. But these investments
have given us a good winter. We have got a car here that is streaks
ahead of that one in terms of downforce. We have got a car here whose development
slope has kicked up, is steeper than the one that we finished last year’s with, in
that very, very good car from 2019. And we’ve got a car here that we hope will be fertile ground to develop strongly all the
way through the 2020 season.