Mercedes technical chief questioned on 2024 Red Bull copy rumours

Michelle Foster
The Mercedes logo.

Mercedes are working around the clock to get the W15 ready in time for launch.

Amidst speculation Mercedes’ W15 could lean more toward the Red Bull concept than just bulky sidepods, James Allison says concept has “nothing whatsoever to do with the car”.

Lining up on the Bahrain Grand Prix in March 2022 with two very different looking cars, Mercedes going down the zero-pod path and Red Bull with the bulky downwash philosophy, it was clear one car was the winner.

That was the Red Bull, the RB18 winning 17 of 22 Grands Prix and the championship double, before its descendent the RB19 did even better with 21 wins in 22 races, the championship double, and the one-two in the Drivers’ standings.

Mercedes sidestep Red Bull ‘concept’ question

In sharp contrast, Mercedes’ W14 won just one Grand Prix prompting the team to scrap the zero-pods in favour of a more Red Bull-esque look for the upgraded W15. That, though, didn’t win a single race.

Leading to suggestions of convergence with Christian Horner expecting more of the 2024 cars to look similar to the Bull design, Mercedes’ technical director Allison has given a non-commital answer to the subject.

“These things are such philosophical conversations but to the mind of a designer, or a performance person in Formula 1, concept is actually nothing to do with the car,” he told Sky’s post-season review.

“Nothing whatsoever to do with the car.

“It’s about a process by which you decide what good looks like, and what what bad looks like.

“It’s your methodology for sorting out all the many, many things you might put on the car and finding only the ones that you really think are going to add lap time. It’s a method.

“The car itself is just the output of that method.

“So when you talk to us about concepts, we’re hearing like what you think our wind tunnel weighting system wasn’t right and we’ve changed that. Or our way of measuring CFD [computational fluid dynamics] was wrong and we’ve added we’ve changed the concept of that. That’s what concept means to us.

“And the car just pops out of the far side of that when we apply that process and that concept.

“So of course the last two years have required us to adjust our approach and our methodology, our concept if you will, and as a result of that the hardware that pops out the far side of that will necessarily be different hardware because it’s defined by different decisions and different weightings of what’s important and what isn’t.” recommends

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Lessons to be learned from Aston Martin

Allison’s refusal to say the W15 will draw from the Red Bull is in line with Lewis Hamilton’s recent comments that copying another team’s car does not pay off in the long run.

Just look at Aston Martin.

Spearheaded by former Red Bull man Dan Fallows, the AMR23 was quick out of the blocks only for the team to take a wrong step with the car’s upgrades.

“Look at the Astons, they tried to copy a car and it wasn’t the same. It is not as easy as that, you have to try and take the good parts and through trial and error just try to add other parts,” said Hamilton.

““But you can imagine they are also nervous of making too big a change and it being the wrong one.

“We need to be consistently week-on-week adding performance and we have higher targets than ever before because we have a massive gap to catch. That makes it really tricky.”

Mercedes finished second in the 2023 Constructors’ Championship, holding off Ferrari at the final hurdle by three points.

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