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'Still plenty of action' to get from F1 ground effect rules, says Allison

Formula 1’s designers are far from running out of ideas on how to get performance from the current generation of ground effect cars, according to Mercedes technical director James Allison.

James Allison, Technical Director, Mercedes-AMG

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

With F1 set to embark on its third year of the current rules set, there is growing anticipation of a major convergence of designs as Red Bull’s rivals try to stop the team from grabbing a third consecutive title double.

With all teams having evolved last year to the downwash sidepod concept that Red Bull has put to good use since 2022, there is a likelihood that cars will look more similar than ever in 2024.

While competitors appear to be coming together and agreeing on the best way to attack the current regulations, that does not mean they are all out of new ideas that can give them a vital edge over the opposition.

And Allison, who is overseeing his squad embark on an all-new concept for its own W15 this year to try to get back to the front of the grid, believes there remains plenty of unexplored avenues that could deliver a competitive advantage. 

"I think most people will be iterating down a similar sort of avenue,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for innovation at all.

“These cars, and it is no secret, run super-near the ground and that’s where they get their best performance.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

“But there is also the ground there, so it is just trying to figure out how you can reliably, precisely and in an informed way, place the car at a point above the ground that you know will be survivable from a skid legality point of view, but will also give you every bit of downforce that the car is capable of offering.

“There is plenty of action there still!”

Allison’s comments fit in with the views of other tech chiefs who, while accepting Red Bull has offered some good ideas, know they need to do other things if they are to have any hope of closing the gap. 

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Alpine technical director Matt Harman said of Red Bull’s RB19: “We think we understand what they're doing. You can't click your fingers and just imagine it overnight. We understand our direction. But I think we've also understood some of the other cars on the grid as well. 

“There are some other great cars there as well that have got some really interesting developments. And it's about trying to understand what you're doing, what they're doing. 

“In the end, if we just follow those people, we will never be in front of them. I think it's a real mantra for us that we need to be inspired by these people, but we need to follow our own way.“

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