Mercedes: Switch to high-rake concept would write off F1 2021 campaign

Mercedes says switching its car to a high-rake concept this year to overcome downforce losses would make the 2021 Formula 1 season a 'write-off'.

Mercedes: Switch to high-rake concept would write off F1 2021 campaign

The German manufacturer suspects that F1’s new aero rules have hurt the low-rake cars much more than their high-rake rivals.

Customer team Aston Martin, which also runs a low-rake car, thinks that the performance swing due to the floor changes is as much as one-second per lap.

While there is some scope for both Mercedes and Aston Martin to run the rear of their cars slightly higher to recover some of the downforce losses, doing so to the extremes that a team like Red Bull does is impossible.

PLUS: How the 'Great F1 Rake-Off' delivered a Bahrain GP showdown

Not only would that require an all-new rear suspension set-up, something that is not allowed under the current rules, but it would also force both outfits to start their aero platforms from scratch.

Mercedes trackside engineering chief Andrew Shovlin said many months of work would then be required to even get back to current downforce levels, by which stage the championship would be long lost.

"We've got a car that could win a championship if we make some clever decisions with it, do some good work with it and operate well over the year," he explained.

"But whether or not it's high-rake or low-rake, we can't do anything about that now. What we certainly can't do is suddenly say we're going to lift the rear of our car 30mm and work with that, because that would write off the season. We would lose so much in doing that - to recover it, it's just not practical."

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Aston Martin team principal Otmar Szafnauer reckoned that the rear suspension situation made a pursuit for a higher rake car impossible.

"For the first time ever that I can remember, in my 24 years of the sport, we've had to homologate the suspension due to the COVID regulations," he said.

"You could only change it if you actually used your tokens on suspension. So even if we wanted to run 150mm rear rideheight, we can't."

Read Also:

Shovlin said that while the evidence may point to the new rules having swung things in favour of the high-rake cars, there was no point in Mercedes wasting time worrying about it.

"Did this set of regulations drag back low-rake cars more than high-rake cars? That may well be the case," he said.

"I know that they [Red Bull] won the last race [of 2020] but, generally, we were ahead at the end of the year and that's not the case now.

"So, either we took a bigger hit with the rules or they've had a faster rate of development since they applied the regulation changes. But it is what it is."

shares
comments

Related video

Ferrari: F1 podium still far away despite Bahrain GP progress

Previous article

Ferrari: F1 podium still far away despite Bahrain GP progress

Next article

Mazepin "beating himself up" over Bahrain woes, says Steiner

Mazepin "beating himself up" over Bahrain woes, says Steiner
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Teams Mercedes
Author Jonathan Noble
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…

The delay that quashed Aston Martin’s last F1 venture Plus

The delay that quashed Aston Martin’s last F1 venture

Aston Martin’s only previous foray into Formula 1 in the late 1950s was a short-lived and unsuccessful affair. But it could have been so different, says NIGEL ROEBUCK

Formula 1
Apr 10, 2021
Verstappen exclusive: Why lack of car-racing titles won't hurt Red Bull's ace Plus

Verstappen exclusive: Why lack of car-racing titles won't hurt Red Bull's ace

Max Verstappen’s star quality in Formula 1 is clear. Now equipped with a Red Bull car that is, right now, the world title favourite and the experience to support his talent, could 2021 be the Dutchman’s year to topple the dominant force of Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes?

Formula 1
Apr 9, 2021
Are we at peak F1 right now? Plus

Are we at peak F1 right now?

For many, many years Formula 1 has strived to do and to be better on all fronts. With close competition, a growing fanbase, a stable political landscape and rules in place to encourage sustainability, 2021 is on course to provide an unexpected peak

Formula 1
Apr 8, 2021
How crucial marginal calls will decide the Red Bull vs Mercedes battle in F1 2021 Plus

How crucial marginal calls will decide the Red Bull vs Mercedes battle in F1 2021

The longer Red Bull can maintain a performance edge over Mercedes, the better the odds will be in the team’s favour against the defending world champions. But as the Bahrain Grand Prix showed, many more factors will be critical in the outcome of the 2021 Formula 1 World Championship

Formula 1
Apr 7, 2021
How Williams’ new structure adheres to a growing F1 trend Plus

How Williams’ new structure adheres to a growing F1 trend

Williams held out against the tide for many years but, as MARK GALLAGHER explains, the age of the owner-manager is long gone

Formula 1
Apr 6, 2021
When a journeyman driver's F1 career lasted just 800m Plus

When a journeyman driver's F1 career lasted just 800m

Nikita Mazepin’s Formula 1 debut at the Bahrain Grand Prix lasted mere corners before he wiped himself out in a shunt, but his financial backing affords him a full season. Back in 1993 though, Marco Apicella was an F1 driver for just 800m before a first corner fracas ended his career. Here’s the story of his very short time at motorsport’s pinnacle

Formula 1
Apr 4, 2021
The nightmare timing that now hinders Mercedes Plus

The nightmare timing that now hinders Mercedes

Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton took victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix despite, for a change, not having the quickest car. But any hopes of developing its W12 to surpass Red Bull's RB16B in terms of outright speed could not have come at a worse time.

Formula 1
Apr 2, 2021