Mercedes explains their approach to changing the concept of their car

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Mercedes’ technical director Mike Elliott says a car concept change “means different things to different people”, so they “had to look at all the things that make up our car and work out what could we be doing differently”.

After a difficult 2022, Mercedes decided to stick with its ‘zero sidepods’ car concept for one more year, however, the team now admits this might have been the wrong thing to do.

Mercedes’ performance at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix was definitely far from what the team had hoped for, so afterwards they decided to embark on a task of changing the concept of their 2023 car.

The team’s Technical Director Mike Elliott explains what that means for the team.

“The simple answer is it means different things to different people,” Elliott said on Mercedes’ Saudi Arabian Grand Prix debrief video.

“I think after Bahrain we had to accept we weren’t where we wanted to be, that we had to look at all the things that make up our car and work out what could we be doing differently, how could we get more performance, because there is a significant gap for us to catch up to the front.

“So the engineers are busy looking at aerodynamics, they are looking at the shape of the car, things like the sidepod geometry, the floor geometry, have we missed a trick?

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“But we are also looking in the simulation world of are we targeting the right things, are we pushing the aerodynamics in the right direction?

“We’re looking at the mechanical set-up of the car, are there things there that we are missing? What else can we bring to the car that is going to add performance? And we’re trying to do that as fast as we possibly can, because we want to get back to the front.

“We want to be competing at the front, and the only way we are going to do that is by accepting we are not in the position we want to be, and fighting and working really hard to get back there.”

Elliott says the team is now energized and fully focused on getting back to the top.

“Obviously, Bahrain was a real reality check and to find ourselves in the position we find ourselves in, not being competitive, was a real disappointment. A disappointment for the whole team.

“But you have to get yourself through that, and you have to turn that into what we are going to do about it? How are we going to bring the sort of the energy and what we are capable of doing?

“How are we going to move ourselves forward? How are we going to get ourselves back in the fight?

“And actually, walking around the factory there is huge amount of energy, there is a huge amount of work going on, we are starting to see some of the development come through already that is going to get us back into this championship fight.

“All we can do is just keep pushing. I’ve been really pleased to see the attitude in the team.”

Looking ahead at the Australian Grand Prix, the Briton said Mercedes’ main focus is to make another step forward.

“Firstly, our main aim at the moment is to continue learning. We’ve only had two races so far. It’s really difficult to build trends from that.

“In terms of the actual characteristics of the circuit, Australia is probably front-limited and probably more like Jeddah than like Bahrain.

“So, let’s hope that we can find another small step forward, get a bit more competitive, find the learning that is going to help us move forward in the long term,” Elliott concluded.

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