Mercedes face ‘big challenge’ with wind tunnel limit

Henry Valantine
Mercedes work on their car. Qatar November 2021

Mike Elliott says the limit on wind tunnel running has given Mercedes a “big challenge” which has had a knock-on effect in how they have planned for 2022.

Formula 1 has introduced a rule whereby the higher a team finishes in the Constructors’ Championship, the less time they are allowed in a wind tunnel in development, as part of the sport’s quest to try and level the playing field on the grid – giving the lowest-ranked teams more time to fine-tune their aerodynamic package.

Elliott expects the new cars to have a “relatively similar” level of performance to their predecessors in 2021, despite the widespread changes brought about by the new regulations.

With such dramatic differences in how the cars are constructed, Mercedes’ technology director admitted it has been difficult to balance how they have used that limited time in the wind tunnel, given the resources that were required for the title battle late last season.

“The big challenge over the winter has been the fact we have fewer runs to use in the wind tunnel,” Elliott said in a video released by Mercedes.

“So that has been challenging, trying to work out how much we should have spent on last year’s car versus how much we should have spent on this year’s car.

“This had knock-on consequences all the way through the factory. In terms of design work, we start design work earlier on things like gearbox and chassis, particularly as the gearbox is fixed for a period of time. We have had to get that right.”

Elliott said this balance is nothing new to Mercedes, but the level of scrutiny attached to it has been heightened given such sweeping changes are taking effect in a matter of weeks.

 

“Once we then begin to understand how the aerodynamics are going to look and how that will knock on to the rest of the car, we then get into sort of the detailed design work and that has been huge over the winter,” said Elliott.

“So this sort of approach we take is the same we take every year. It’s just more difficult because the rule changes are much more significant than we have seen in the past.”

 

Mercedes believe new cars will have similar performance to last year's

Mike Elliott believes the new cars will be "relatively similar" to last year's models.