‘Mercedes is leading itself astray with front wing band aid’

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, puts in the laps at Silverstone. Britain July 2023

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton puts in the laps at Silverstone. Britain July 2023

Former Jordan designer Gary Anderson believes Mercedes have done themselves a disservice with their new Silverstone front wing as it’s like “putting a band aid” on their underfloor problems.

Mercedes debuted a new front wing assembly in Friday’s practice for the British Grand Prix but without much success with George Russell down in 12th place, 1.1s off the pace, while Lewis Hamilton was a further tenth down in P15.

It had former Jordan designer Anderson declaring the team is trying to put a “band aid” on the W14’s real issue, it’s underfloor.

Mercedes still have ‘a long way to go’

“Mercedes is leading itself astray with the fact it has a very flexible front-wing flap assembly,” he told The Race.

“It is trying to fix the underfloor problem with the front wing flexing at high-speed. But that’s like putting a band aid on it because to do that you sacrifice overall downforce.

“However, from what I’ve seen of its car’s problem I’d hate to see Mercedes run with a rigid front wing flap assembly because it would be a nightmare to drive.

“There is still a long way to go before it has a package that gives its drivers a stable aerodynamic platform.”

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The 72-year-old reckons the underfloor problems Mercedes are suffering are highlighted by Red Bull’s lack thereof with Max Verstappen’s RB19 sticking through concerns while the Mercedes team-mates are having to make corrections.

“The Red Bull looks like a compliant car,” he said. “We’ve talked about the amount of anti-dive at the front and anti-lift at the rear and in reality that mechanically ‘deadens’ the car a bit because it’s being done to stop the car moving a lot, especially under braking.

“But if you can run the car softer with the geometry to support the car, the driver can get a decent feel, especially in the slower corners where there is no massive braking requirement. The harder a driver brakes, the more they can feel the car move, but it’s moving on the springs while not being totally locked up mechanically because of the spring stiffness.

“That is only worth a few tenths around a lap rather than being night and day as it used to be in the past – but with the regulations being so restrictive, finding a couple of tenths is worth the equivalent of two seconds 25 years ago. It’s all about those tiny details and there’s still a long way to go for others.

“When you look at the Red Bull underfloor, it’s clearly seriously complicated. People say it’s not all underfloor, but it is a huge contributor and Red Bull has it right.

“Watching the Mercedes, we could see the drivers having to make the odd correction of the rear end, especially in the fast corners which costs lap time. That rear instability has been there all season and although it has improved, it’s clearly still a problem.

“We saw Lewis Hamilton having to make some mid-corner corrections at Stowe and if that is happening, something unpredicted is happening in the underfloor that’s detrimental to the aerodynamic stability. It shouldn’t really happen after you have committed to to the corner – the mid-corner should be fairly stable, but it doesn’t seem that it is for the Mercedes.”

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