Mercedes tech boss not convinced new rules have made F1 racing better

Mercedes technical director Mike Elliott is not convinced that Formula 1’s new regulations have delivered "significantly closer racing".

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13

F1 underwent a rules revolution at the start of last year, as the return of ground effect aerodynamics were aimed at allowing cars to follow each other better and therefore make overtaking easier.

But with mixed conclusions about the scope of the improvement, off the back of a dominant season for Red Bull, Elliott thinks it would be wrong to believe that things had dramatically changed.

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Speaking to Autosport, Elliott said he felt that the new regulations had not delivered the kind of major step that some anticipated.

“Personally, whether it’s because we’ve not had the greatest car, I’ve not been a huge fan of them,” he said about the new rules set.

“If you look at what they were intended to do with improving overtaking, they’ve definitely allowed the cars to get closer in the corners.

“But I’m not sure that we’ve not then lost out on the straights in terms of the wake and the drag reduction you get as a result of it. So, it doesn’t feel to me like we’ve seen significantly closer racing, we’ve just seen a different set of rules to work with.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Elliott said from a pure engineering perspective, teams dealt with the new cars like any other year, where it was all about making the most of the limits imposed.

“I think as engineers in Formula 1, generally speaking, it’s just a set of regulations, it’s just a set of constraints you’re trying to deal with,” he said.

“You’re trying to produce the quickest car you can and, in some ways, it doesn’t matter to us so much what the outcome is. The outcome is that it’s there for us as a challenge to overcome.

“I think what’s more important is what the fans want. What is it that’s required to produce really good racing and how can we get cars that do that? Have we made a step in the right direction with these? Maybe. But I’m not sure.”

Elliot believed that there were ways to deliver cars that could both follow closer in corners but then gain from a slipstream on the straight, but it would take some long-term planning.

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F1 is already evaluating the introduction of moveable aerodynamics from 2026 that will change the downforce settings for corners and straights.

“We’d have to have something very different to what we’ve got at the moment,” he said.

“But there are definitely technologies out there that could give you cars that could follow closely in the corners and still give you a drag benefit down the straights.

“But Formula 1 and the FIA are working towards what will be the 2026 regulations and, if you look at what’s already been released for the power unit for 2026, we’re going to need very different chassis regulations to go with them.

“Hopefully, we’ll end up with something that’s a good step in that direction.”

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