Mercedes F1 launch: Keeping long wheelbase for 2018 a 'no-brainer'

Mercedes technical director James Allison says sticking with the long wheelbase concept for the 2018 Formula 1 season was "a no-brainer"

Mercedes F1 launch: Keeping long wheelbase for 2018 a 'no-brainer'

The team struggled to understand its 2017 car, which featured a long wheelbase and ran noticeably less rake than teams such as Red Bull, early in the season but still clinched the constructors' title and took Lewis Hamilton to the drivers' crown.

Rival Ferrari has moved its wheelbase philosophy slightly towards Mercedes' after running a shorter 2017 car.

Allison insisted Mercedes could gain more by continuing to develop its current ideas rather than spreading R&D resources too thinly exploring a major change.

"The long wheelbase is something we decided very early on was an asset to us, and I'm pretty sure we're still right on that," said Allison.

"It's much, much easier having a decision like that under your belt, because then you're not running two windtunnel programmes with two wheelbases, two models, two different things.

"You can be pretty certain the gains you got last year will be inherited by the car this year. If you're pretty sure the wheelbase is an asset, then carrying it over is an absolute no-brainer.

"The rake of the car is just a thing you work on all the time.

"We try to make the mechanical grip part of our suspension work nicely with the aerodynamic package that the aero guys work on, and where we have the broad peak of our best rear downforce performance is a little lower in ride height than some other cars. But we're not so bad!

"The peak rear downforce moves up a little bit for this year's car, but we certainly won't be in the sort of rake territory that we saw the Red Bulls and co in last year."

Allison said changing concept was a bigger risk for Mercedes, as F1's pacesetter, than smaller teams.

"The aerodynamic detail on the cars is considerable," he added. "There is much more opportunity to make them worse than make them better.

"Even if you wanted to pursue a new and different concept, you expect to find a fair amount of loss before you get back into positive territory.

"And that concept for us looked like a change that would spend too much time in negative territory before it might eventually perhaps go positive.

"If you're a car that's sitting a long way down the grid, then you have less to lose by changing direction. You know the path you're on is not right."

Mercedes' W09 also features tight packaging at its rear.

Allison said Mercedes' engine department - which will introduce a new concept this season - led by Andy Cowell had "bent over backwards" to accommodate the design team's requests.

"Andy's guys had to work on things that had much longer lead times, and if we had taken bad decisions, recovering from it in Andy's world would have been very hard," said Allison.

"It's a much braver project in Brixworth than it was in Brackley."

shares
comments
Oliver Rowland gets Williams Formula 1 role for 2018

Previous article

Oliver Rowland gets Williams Formula 1 role for 2018

Next article

Is this the team F1 2018 is relying on?

Is this the team F1 2018 is relying on?
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Teams Mercedes
Author Adam Cooper
Why Mercedes isn't confident it's really ahead of Red Bull at Imola Plus

Why Mercedes isn't confident it's really ahead of Red Bull at Imola

While Mercedes struck back against Red Bull by topping the times at Imola on Friday ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, the overall picture remains incredibly close. Despite having a possible edge this weekend, the reigning Formula 1 world champion squad is not taking anything for granted...

What Mercedes must do to keep its F1 title challenge on track Plus

What Mercedes must do to keep its F1 title challenge on track

Mercedes may find itself leading the drivers' and constructors' standings after Lewis Hamilton's victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix, but it is well-aware that it came against the odds, with Red Bull clearly ahead on pace. Here's what the Brackley team must do to avoid its crown slipping

Formula 1
Apr 16, 2021
Why Tsunoda can become Japan’s greatest F1 talent Plus

Why Tsunoda can become Japan’s greatest F1 talent

While Japan's fever for motor racing is well-documented, the country has yet to produce a Formula 1 superstar – but that could be about to change, says BEN EDWARDS

Formula 1
Apr 15, 2021
Why the demise of F1's hypocritical spending habit is cause for celebration Plus

Why the demise of F1's hypocritical spending habit is cause for celebration

For too long, F1's richest teams have justified being able to spend as much as they want because that's the way they've always conducted their business. STUART CODLING says that's no reason not to kick a bad habit

Formula 1
Apr 14, 2021
The double whammy that is defining Vettel’s F1 fate Plus

The double whammy that is defining Vettel’s F1 fate

It's been a tough start to Sebastian Vettel's Aston Martin F1 career, with a lack of pre-season testing mileage followed by an incident-packed Bahrain GP. But two key underlying factors mean a turnaround is not guaranteed

Formula 1
Apr 14, 2021
The diva that stole a march on F1’s wide-bodied opposition Plus

The diva that stole a march on F1’s wide-bodied opposition

In 2017 new F1 technical regulations were supposed to add drama - and peg Mercedes back. STUART CODLING looks at the car which, while troubled, set the stage for the wide-bodied Formula 1 era

Formula 1
Apr 13, 2021
The themes to watch in F1’s Imola return Plus

The themes to watch in F1’s Imola return

Three weeks is a long time in Formula 1, but in the reshaped start to the 2021 season the teams head to Imola to pick things up after the frenetic Bahrain opener. Here's what to look out for and the developments to follow at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

Formula 1
Apr 13, 2021
The 'new' F1 drivers who need to improve at Imola Plus

The 'new' F1 drivers who need to improve at Imola

After a pandemic-hit winter of seat-swapping, F1 kicked off its season with several new faces in town, other drivers adapting to new environments, and one making a much-anticipated comeback. BEN ANDERSON looks at who made the most of their opportunity and who needs to try harder…

Formula 1
Apr 12, 2021