Formula 1 | Mercedes details lessons learned for F1 2023
Mercedes F1 technical director Mike Elliott has looked ahead to the 2022 season, which has so far won eight consecutive constructors’ championships, ending with just one victory in November.
It seems that it all starts with the wrong choice of the concept after the winter tests, the W13 with the side pods was reduced to the maximum. But according to him, as he told AMuS, things are much more complicated than that.
“We’re surprised no one else has come up with this concept. When you go down that path, it’s very hard to copy anything else.” admits that he will start with
But is this the cause of the problems? Elliott admits it “We only have a partial view of things.”
“We only see what our car does. It’s hard to judge how other concepts react. We tried to understand the risks and predict the performance variation from track to track. It has nothing to do with the shape of the side legs. , more with how we designed the car and the goals we set for ourselves. “
However, there was an obvious problem with this concept: “With a lot of air exposed above the floor, the concern was to make it stiff enough and not see it flex too much at high speeds. But we’ve solved that now.”
Porpoising was another big problem, but not related to the concept, according to Elliott.
“At the beginning of the season we were dealing with aerodynamically generated rebounds like everyone else. It was always caused by bumps at the end. It’s typical of very stiff cars.”
“At first, we couldn’t explain why it always looked different from track to track. Later on, our predictions became more accurate. Our simulations gave us a fairly accurate indication of whether the track would be good or bad. Now we have a good track. What we need to do next season to make sure it doesn’t happen again theory. It gave us confidence for the winter. But unfortunately in Formula 1 you never know everything.”
In the wind tunnel, the Mercedes F1 concept was potentially the fastest according to several technical directors, but it was not confirmed on the track.
“The wind tunnel gave us the right answers about where to find the lap times. What we didn’t understand was how we used downforce and how it worked with the rest of the car.”
Did the rebound surprise Elliott?
“We knew this phenomenon existed in past ground-effect vehicles, and we talked about it during the design phase. We didn’t expect any problems, but the simulations didn’t have any problems. I think everyone has experienced this. It’s very difficult to reproduce the problem in the wind tunnel, and it it would be too expensive to model in simulation. So we didn’t use the resources allowed by the CFD rules. simulate rebound.”
“To solve this, on the one hand, experiments and classical intellectual work were needed, and on the other hand, the development of new tools. We always talk about the correlation between the wind tunnel and reality. The wind tunnel and CFD will never be just an adjustment. The approximation of reality. The engineer’s art is this approximation from the track. It’s about comparing the data that comes in and drawing the right conclusions. It’s always been that way. When we saw the breakthrough, it was clear that we needed a solution, so we built tools to help us do that.”
What is certain is that these problems cost Mercedes a lot of development time…
“Usually you identify problems with your car in winter testing and try to solve them in the first race. This time was different. Red Bull was probably the fastest to solve the problem. They found the solution by the end of winter testing. Others thought they had solved it, then came back, it was so dominant for us that we couldn’t pay attention to other parts of the car.”
“Usually you’re trying to find not only the downforce, but you’re trying to give your car some cornering characteristics so the drivers can balance it the way they want. That’s usually done during winter testing. “That’s where you work on the parameters. We had to postpone It. And once we solved the rebound, we suddenly knew we had other problems to solve.”
And what were these other problems?
“If I revealed them now, then the competition would know very well the solutions we came up with. The simplest answer is this: the car we gave our drivers is not the car we wanted. The drivers immediately reported that it was difficult to drive. Now we know why.”
The W13 also had excess weight…
“To be honest with ourselves, we didn’t get the F1 we wanted for our racing team. But weight wasn’t our biggest problem. Everyone knows how many lap times you can get when your car is lighter. We can. Always fix this problem, it will be fixed this winter. It was more important to understand the other problems. If we don’t do that, we will experience the same thing next season.”
F1 teams are now limited by budget limits. Did he have a role in solving the problem?
“There’s always a problem when you have time to deal with cost limits. We only have a limited number of engineers. When you’re building a vehicle, you have to think carefully about how to use those resources in the most intelligent way. We can’t do everything anymore. If we had a big team of engineers jump in, other things would would be interrupted. Without the budget cap, we could cover more issues at the same time, that’s a fact. So the answer is a big yes!”
Make way for the car of 2023 so that within a month…
“The chassis and main parts of the car came out in mid-October. The body is decided much later. The devil is in the details. We build the aerodynamics around the raw frame of the car.”
“Our targets will be different from 2022. Some of the issues were due to the aerodynamic targets we set ourselves. We have already made changes and there will be more. Hopefully this will be enough to be ahead again in 2023.”