Mercedes on 2023 car: “We have not fixed what our car is going to look like”

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Mercedes Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin says “the rules do change for next year”, so “that’s going to change how people are looking at developing their car”.

Mercedes’ 2022 season has not turned out the way they hoped it would. Problems with the W13 have been evident since pre-season testing, and the team has spent the season trying to understand the car, and find ways to extract performance from it.

At the Italian Grand Prix Saturday press conference, Andrew Shovlin was asked to explain the overriding lessons that the team has learned from the current car.

“It has been a very interesting journey,” the Briton said.

“I think we were overly optimistic in where we thought we could run the car. The car that we launched had a lot of downforce close to the ground, and there were a lot of issues being able to actually run the car on track there.

“And I think that it’s no secret in the pit lane that people have been trying to get their cars further off the road, to try and make them better able to cope with bumps, and then to avoid them hitting the ground, where you lose a lot of the grip once it’s all going through the plank.

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“But really just looking also at how the car is balanced through the speed range, through the different phases of the corner.

“And in general, we just haven’t had enough performance on it. It’s not just that where we had the downforce was in the wrong region, we’re just behind on performance.

“So, there’s a lot of areas that we’ve been working on. The focus this year, changed relatively early to one of learning, making sure we can get back to a competitive position for next year.

“And the signs that we’ve seen over the last six or seven races have been encouraging. We’re not where we would like to be – but the direction of travel looks okay.

“So we’re working very hard to try and improve that.”

In 2022 Mercedes has introduced a ‘zero sidepod’ concept, which is different from all the other teams on the grid. Shovlin was asked if Mercedes has decided on a car concept for next year.

“I think the rules do change for next year, that’s going to change how people are looking at developing their car.

“You’d always say that the fastest car is the one that’s got the best concept, so, you know, today that’s going to be Red Bull.

“Where that goes into next year it’s difficult to say. And I don’t think… Certainly we, as a team, have not fixed what our car is going to look like.

“We’re still exploring different concepts, and that process will go on for some time.

“But we’re just looking for what will give us the best development opportunity in those new regulations going forward,” the Briton concluded.

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