Brawn “very optimistic” about W04’s aerodynamics

2013 F1 season

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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”

The change in technical rules for 2014 could play into the hands of teams who develop both their engines and chassis, he added:

“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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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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26 comments on “Brawn “very optimistic” about W04’s aerodynamics”

  1. William Brierty
    4th February 2013, 20:02

    2014, blah-blah-blah…Red Bull will win anyway.

    1. i dont think so

    2. Great expectations birth great disappointments.

      1. 2014, blah-blah-blah…Red Bull will win anyway.

        Not if Rory Byrne designs the new Ferrari.

  2. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    4th February 2013, 20:02

    So weird to see a pic of a 2013 F1 car of the rear. Teams ( especially RB) have been trying to hide it so much

    1. That’s a picture of the ‘launch-spec’ – the plan is to demo the car and (likely) spend a week testing the tyres…

      What rolls out in Barcelona will likely be much different.

      1. Its probably the closest to test spec of all the car’s launched, as they actually did testing today with it (film days are sometimes used for filming, too!).

  3. Brawn “very optimistic” about W04′s aerodynamics

    I’m glad somebody is. Because to be brutally honest, I don’t think the W04 is going to be a world-beater. I’d be very surprised if it challenges for podiums. I think that, at best, they’ve done enough to turn the W03’s flailing fortunes around, and Mercedes will be consistent enough to bank solid points finishes. But to my mind, running in the top three is out of the question for now.

    1. I agree

      Though Raikkonen managed to be involved in the title fight for a large portion of the season by having consistent points finishes. I dont think Lewis or Nico will be in the title fight, but i think they may manage a couple of surprise results

      1. Though saying that, there was alot of different winners early season, dont think thats gunna’ happen again :]

        1. Last years Lotus was fastest at pre-season tests, we’ll see about how good will Merc be.

          1. “Last years Lotus was fastest at pre-season tests”

            Which means nothing really :]

            The point is though, is that Raikkonen didn’t need to be up on the podium race in, race out, to be in the title fight, have a look at his early results : 7th, 5th, 14th, 2nd, 3rd, 9th, 8th.. But as i said, multiple different winners early on helped him stay up there. As the season went on though, the others pulled away.

            Anyway as i say, i dont think Merc will be in the title fight, but i think Hamilton/Rosberg could get a few surprise results, especially if they’ve largly fixed their overheating and tyre wear issues.

    2. Yeah I wouldn’t have expected Brawn to say anything else at this stage, and I’m sure they will just do well to have improved somewhat and get some solid points as has been suggested in some posts above, and perhaps even one win…but I don’t think anybody is expecting them to be a world beater this year. Improvement is one thing, the drivers being comfortable with the ‘improved aerodynamics’ or the feel of the car in general in another, as is reliability, tire treatment, and then of course this is all relative to what the rest of the grid has done, especially the top 3, of which Merc right now is not. But I take RB’s point that if the aero is somewhat sorted out, other things become easier to work on.

    3. I think the W03 and in turn the W04, is under-estimated by most, remember, Schumacher threw away a LOT of points last year, and had a decent amount taken from him. Especially at the start of the season they were looking quite strong. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the hands of Hamilton they post some decent results.

  4. If I was a customer of Mercedes F1 Engines (and thus paying millions for an engine supply contract) I would be getting a bit fed up of these coments.

    The assumption being if you are a long term customer paying lots of money, you will be at a disadvantage and treated like a piece of crap on Mercedes shoe.

    What is even more curious is that Mercedes puts its name to all of its customer cars so why on earth would they want to hamstring them by putting them at a disadvantage. Surely it is a better policy to be open with your customers so they all create cars that beat Mercedes other engine competition.

    1. @leoman Where did Ross Brawn say that they were going to hamstring their customers or treat them like crap? He says that they will optimise the engine to suit the works team first. Is that really such a surprise? are you suggesting they should design it to suit a customer team and ignore their works team’s needs? I doubt their customers are going to be terribly surprised by this, and there isn’t exactly a whole lot of alternative supply in this supply-demand equation!

    2. His point was that the engine and chassis are designed as an optimal package, whereas a customer won’t have that same discretion.

  5. i stiil dont understand why the renault engines are outperforming the mercedes and ferrari engines for three years in a row .

    1. The renault engine overall is less powerful than the merc i.e. on straight line speed. It is more efficient on fuel economy than the other two manufacturered engines, as far as I can understand the merc engine is the best overall as it has that power that can level the playfield providing the aero is in place.

      This is where the ferrari and mercedes marq teams have failed compared to renault as their overall aero packages failed compared to the renault marq team i.e red bull. But I am suprised the french engine by renault is good hehehe french road cars are nortoriously unreliable

    2. Drop Valencia!
      4th February 2013, 23:46

      Well the Renault engine has an advantage, think about it: The Red Bull and Toro Rosso were built to test the engines in 2007/08, they were identical cars except for the engines, Newey wanted Renault (no doubt for a good reason) but toro Rosso telemetry showed the FEZ engine had much more power. Renault were eventually allowed a power upgrade in 2009 after this power difficiency was made apparent a used as a lobbeing tool. The engine still kept the inherit, but more difficult to define, architectural benifits Newey wanted, and hasn’t looked back since 2009.

      1. Agreed about the marriage of the engine to the chassis, the Newey chassis, but also let’s not forget Renault are no slouches in the engine department. They have a rich history of winning Championships in F1. Why wouldn’t they be outperforming their competitors, when they have done it in the past? Yet I have heard some pundits opine that it is in fact the Merc engine that was the best last year.

        1. +1.

          I didn’t the math but I’d say Renault has won more championships than Mercedes in the last 20 years.

  6. Good to see Ross is optimistic, lets see how the team feels about that when we get towards the end of the second week of testing then.

  7. Although I have doubts about the authenticity of the cars being photographed I am amazed at the “expert” comments of some here, why do the teams bother spending all that money upgrading their wind tunnels from 50% to 60% when all they have to do is show some photos to “you know who” to find out if the car will be fast or slow ?

    1. +1. Wild speculation.

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