The German automaker suspects that F1’s new aero rules hurt low-rake cars far more than their high-rake rivals.
The Aston Martin customer team, which also operates a low-rake car, believes the performance swing due to floor changes is up to one second per lap.
While there is some room for Mercedes and Aston Martin to push the rear of their cars slightly higher to recoup some of the downforce losses, it is impossible to do so at the extremes that a team like Red Bull the fact.
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Not only would this require a completely new rear suspension setup, which is not allowed under current rules, but it would also require both outfits to start their aero platforms from scratch.
Mercedes Chief Ground Engineering Andrew Shovlin said it would take many months of work to even get back to current downforce levels, where the championship has long been lost.
“We have a car that could win a championship if we make smart decisions with it, do a good job with it and perform well throughout the year,” he explained.
“But whether or not it’s a high or low rake, there’s nothing we can do about it now. What we sure can’t do is suddenly say we’re going to lift the back of it. our 30mm car and working with that., because that would erase the season. We would lose so much doing that – to get it back, it’s just not practical. “
Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12
Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images
Aston Martin team principal Otmar Szafnauer said the rear suspension situation made it impossible to chase a higher rake car.
“For the first time I can remember, in my 24 years of sport, we had to homologate the suspension due to COVID regulations,” he said.
“You could only change it if you actually used your chips on the suspension. So even if we wanted to ride at a rear ride height of 150mm, we couldn’t.”
Shovlin said that while the evidence may indicate that the new rules have tipped the ball in favor of high-rake cars, there is no point in Mercedes wasting time worrying about it.
“Has this set of regulations set low rake cars back more than high rake cars? That just might be the case,” he said.
“I know they [Red Bull] won the last race [of 2020] but, in general, we were ahead at the end of the year and that is not the case now.
“So either we’ve been affected by the rules more or they’ve had a faster pace of development since they implemented the regulatory changes. But that’s what it is.”