Ross Brawn believes Mercedes have learned from the problems they experienced with their 2012 car and have addressed its key weaknesses with the W04.
Speaking to the media following the launch of the car today Brawn said the team had focussed on addressing the aerodynamic shortcomings of the W03:
“Simple aerodynamic performance is always very significant,” said. Brawn. “If you can improve the downforce, improve the efficiency, [then] management of tyres, other factors, become not easy but easier.
“Understanding the exhaust has been a key factor over the winter and I think we have a much better understanding now, so the exhaust technology.
“And the ones that take the car forward in terms of the basic principles: centre of gravity, stiffness, dynamics of the suspension. All of those are things that we’ve worked on hard really since the car started being conceived which was early last year.
“But the aerodynamic performance is core, which has been helped by the upgrade to 60% [wind-tunnel] model, helped by the restructuring of the aero group under Mike Elliott which I’m very optimistic about. So those are the major factors.”
Brawn said the large technical team they have assembled is to allow them to work on their 2013 and 2014 projects side-by-side:
“The structure we have now is the structure that I designed during 2012: So Bob Bell as technical director – Bob’s been our technical director for a number of years.
“It’s quite clear that there’s a lot of demand on the engineering team, particularly when you’re looking at a new car, as we are in 2014.
“And the new car is so dramatically different to the existing car that it was essential that we had parallel engineering groups, very close together, but parallel engineering groups to do the current car and do the new car. So the new car is headed up by Geoff Willis, the current car is headed up by Aldo [Costa]. And that gives us the strength to do both programmes.”
2014 will be “like F1 was 10 or 15 years ago”
“As an engine manufacturer we have to have a lot of input into the design of the engine, to get the engine right and chassis.
If you were a simple customer you take what the engine supplier gives you but if, as we are, you’re a complete team, a group had to be working on the design of the car much earlier because we have to understand what sort of engine we want for the car.
“So I think that parallel activity is essential. Ferrari announced a short while ago that they had two teams working on the ’13 and ’14 and that’s what we’ve done. So perhaps the names we have in our organisation are a bit more widely known but it’s the essential structure that you need to run those programmes.”
Mercedes have won just one race since returning to F1 as a factory team three years ago. Brawn said they must take advantage of the opportunity next year presents:
“2014, with the constraint of some technical regulations for the engine, allow us a clean sheet of paper in trying to optimise the car and the engine. It’s rather like Formula One was 10 or 15 years ago when you designed the engine and chassis together. As one of only two manufacturers involved we have that opportunity and we mustn’t waste it.”
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