Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019

Hamilton: Mercedes more willing to adopt rivals’ design ideas

2019 French Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Lewis Hamilton believes part of Mercedes’ success is down to its willingness to adopt ideas from rival teams’ designs.

Mercedes have won all eight of the races so far this season, six of which have been victories for Hamilton. Speaking after his latest win in the French Grand Prix on Sunday, Hamilton said he was surprised their rivals persist with similar car designs for so long.

“It’s just interesting how you design these cars,” he said. “The goal is to have a car that works on all tracks.

“You look at the Red Bull back in the day it used to be strong, and they are still strong, in places like Monaco and Hungary. They just continue to do the same philosophy for whatever reason for whatever reason with massive rake and it appears a lot of drag which doesn’t always suit everywhere.

“Where[as] we adapt each year, we adjust the car. We’ve got quite a cool approach, we don’t necessarily think every year that we do it best. Maybe the others have a point, maybe this would be better there. It seems like maybe the other teams don’t do that, necessarily.”

Hamilton said he “definitely didn’t expect to have six wins at this point” after his car was a “disaster” to drive in pre-season testing.

“It’s crazy to think that we are where we are right now. In Barcelona, I truly believed that we had done a good job over the winter. I knew that the engine side it was a harder year for the guys back at the factory and then the car was looking good with the numbers and everything.

“We got to the test and it was a disaster to drive. And it’s really difficult to know what you’ve got to change. The first days in testing you’re supposed to just go through a process and you don’t have a lot of time to be working on the balance and trying to get the car in the window. But eventually at the end I was like ‘guys, I need to figure out where the window of this car is’.

“Fortunately we got to the place and discovered it and and it really helped unlock a lot of the potential of the car. But then obviously the first race, the gap to the Ferraris, we were not expecting. I had a bad start, and I know exactly why. And then I’ve just gone from there after that, my starts have been strong since.

“Then obviously we got to Bahrain and the Ferraris were slightly ahead yet we were in a good battle and I was thinking maybe this would stay the same.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2019 F1 season

Browse all 2019 F1 season articles

Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

25 comments on “Hamilton: Mercedes more willing to adopt rivals’ design ideas”

  1. Spot on . I wander the same thing ALL THE TIME! These teams see, hear and experience the getting their asses handed to them by Mercedes every year yet nobody copies their design . The narrow nose. Minimal rake, the elevated suspension arms, just to point out the most obvious and these F1 engineers definitely see where the Mercedes car is beating them yet we still don’t see anyone covering their philosophy. I don’t get it.

    1. NeverElectric
      26th June 2019, 0:54

      The BBC analysed this very issue earlier this year, see article linked below.
      Check out the section subtitled “The Newey Influence”. Essentially, the success of Newey has seen his apprentices snapped up by other teams, spreading Newey’s high-rake philosophy and overall design ethos throughout F1. It appears Mercedes have been immune to that, and have pursued their own design road.

      Quoting (liberally):

      This is where the great technical directors and designers really come into their own. They are the ones who have consistently made the right calls on the big decisions and few, if any, can match Newey’s record.

      For many years, he has been the hot property in F1 and, as a result, has boosted the market value of those alongside him.

      Teams, enthralled by Newey, have eagerly snapped up anyone who has worked closely with the great man. So his acolytes have found themselves in nearly every team on the grid.

      In this way, the Newey philosophy has spread through F1, one aspect of which is using a high rake angle as a starting point for your design.

      Newey has been pursuing high rake for 20 years or more. But it became a major trend from the early part of this decade, when his high-rake Red Bulls took four straight world title doubles with Sebastian Vettel.

      See original article at

      1. NeverElectric
        26th June 2019, 4:23

        Sorry, original article link below:

        https://www.bbc.com/sport/formula1/47838557

    2. But I bet when you put an Mercedes engine in a Red Bull (and give them some time to adept) the Red Bull philosophy will work as good.

      My point, when you have a great engine to begin with, it is easier to make a car that works on each track.

      1. Well, I’m sure that’s why Racing Point and Williams are currently crushing the midfield teams….. er… wait.

        People have been underrating the Mercedes chassis since 2014– and it just keeps winning races. Ferrari has a stronger engine, according to practically everyone, and the Mercedes keeps winning races. The Red Bull engine is getting stronger and stronger– and the Mercedes just keeps winning races.

        Meanwhile, Williams hasn’t won a race (although they got close once or twice) and Force India / Racing Point hasn’t won a race with the Mercedes V6 Turbo Hybrid power-unit. And don’t say Mercedes has engine modes that they don’t, because that would be grounds for disqualification from the championship.

        1. McLaren couldn’t win with the Mercedes hybrid engines either… but after 5 years & counting the ridiculous argument that any team could win with Merc engines still persists. Go figure…

  2. I suppose it is all about resources. Once you have locked into a certain path with your car(s), it will be extremely time consuming to change the approach. Also, if you copy just some parts of your rivals, they might not work with your concept. And if you just copy everything, once you’ve nailed the design the other teams have had weeks, months or years to hone their designs (it has taken Honda how many years to become competitive?); and you have to also understand why certain designs work and others don’t.

    1. For the smaller teams yes, and also for the higher midfield maybe (McLaren, Renault need to make up a lot – so either develop a good way you find, or, be adaptive, which I think McLaren has been doing in the last year), but for Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes, they should have a ample resources during the pre-season to develop and test a lot of ideas for their car, wouldn’t you say @kaiie?

  3. SparkyAMG (@)
    25th June 2019, 19:39

    Obviously the W10 is working exceptionally well, but I feel like it’s the first season since the 2017 regulation changes where Mercedes have truly got their platform working consistently across all tracks. It’s two most recent predecessors were known divas and other concepts were clearly working well.

    I also believe that those who were utilising front axle blowing to manage outwash (Ferrari/Red Bull) have lost out the most under current regs, so perhaps Hamilton is on to something.

    1. @sparkyamg
      Mercedes’ rivals won eight races in 2017 and nine races in 2018. It looked like Mercedes domination was finally coming to a close and Red Bull/Ferrari had caught up.

      Then FIA change the aero regulations (which helped Merc) and Pirelli changed the tyre compounds (which also helped Mercedes) and Mercedes are back to dominance again.

      It must be said, this sport is run by extremely incompetent people.

      1. The 2019 aero changes were an attempt to allow the cars to follow more closely. They were not designed to help or hinder any particular team. All the teams participated in their development.

        Pirelli changed the tires to make the blistering less of a problem, the blistering affected the entire grid and we’re not specific to any team. Do a Google search for Kimi tire 2018 monza and those pictures will show you it was a clear safety issue.

        The rule changes were made for the overall betterment of the sport and both were successful.

        Your conspiratorial ranting makes you look like a fool.

        It is nobody’s fault other than each individual team that failed to bring a good enough car.

        @kingshark

        1. @megatron
          Last years tyres were fine. There was no real reason to change the tyres this year.

          Your conspiratorial ranting makes you look like a fool.

          Where did I bring up a conspiracy? You are arguing against a strawman you created in your own head.

          1. @kingshark

            These tires are not “fine”
            https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.motorsport.com/f1/news/pirelli-explains-perfect-storm-that-caused-raikkonen-blisters/3170980/amp/

            There was too much blistering at more than half the tracks and that was even with shaved tires for 3 races.

            You make it sound like the rule/tire changes were made to help Merc when they were in actuality made to improve F1 as a whole, AND THEY HAVE. It is not the rule makers fault that Merc made a much better car than everyone else.

            The cars can clearly follow each other better than last year and the tires for the last 2 race (in record high temperatures both) are the best pirelli have ever made for F1.

          2. @megatron
            Did the blistering cause a single serious tyre failure last year? No.

            Therefore there was no reason to change them.

            The cars can follow closer this year because of the aero changes, it has nothing to do with the tyres.

            And despite that; the racing was much better last season.

          3. @kingshark

            Did the blistering cause a single serious tyre failure last year? No.

            Therefore there was no reason to change them.

            Yes. There. Was.

            It was ruining racing even more then Vettel blundering in a bout a third of the races. Besides, Ferrari was also suffering from blistering .

            Last season Vettel also said that the thin gauge tyres was the right choice for Spain.

            The actual fact is that Ferrari simply made a mistake in their car philosophy. They went for too much “efficiency” and not enough downforce.

            While Mercedes put making the car better on the tyres highest on their priority list:
            https://www.motorsport.com/f1/news/mercedes-w10-much-kinder-tyres/4336842/

            So yes their efforts paid out because they worked hard at it.

            All this nonsense about the tyre conspiracy is just Marko’s (Red Bulls) desperate/despicable attempt to throw the dice and hope their car performs less worse when all cars suddenly are put on tyres which they were not designed for.

            It worked for Red Bull once before (gifting them the title), so why not try to pull that stunt again?

          4. @f1osaurus
            Last year, the average race rating was significantly higher than this year. So tell me again, how have the new tyres this year made racing better? The average rate the race polls shows that the majority of fans disagree with your view.

          5. @f1osaurus Come on man, just stop it with this nonsense. How on earth is that relevant?

            How is the FIA responsible for Ferrari and Red Bull making a complete hash of their car design?

            Just stop gasping at straws and exposing more of your ignorance.

            Man o man. This is getting worse and worse. You really are a disgrace to this forum in the extreme.

      2. You’re half right. Mercedes is in a better position to take advantage of rule changes, because they have the staff and the resources to pursue multiple lines of aero development (and probably suspension development). Everyone knew the thinner tires were coming, but for some reason, only Mercedes was ready for it. I suppose some nutcases will suggest it’s because of their Super Sekret tire test in 2013.

        Everyone knew the outwash rules were coming– and in fact, the teams were in favor of them. We’ve seen some interesting variations in front wings to cope with the new regs. Mercedes even arguably got it wrong, if you look at their performance the first week of winter testing– but since they’d been developing multiple concepts, they switched to plan B the second week at Barcelona, and have been developing *that* package. Somewhere deep in Brackley, I’m sure they’ve got a team working on a high-rake concept, and determining that their current design still works better.

        There is no conspiracy, but you’re right, the teams running the sport are idiots– they’re changing the rules so often, and making them so restrictive, that only the top three teams can hope to keep up, and so far, Mercedes has been keeping up better than the rest.

  4. He is absolutely right about Redbull. For years now they are making similar aero cars with massive rake, very tight coke bottle area and those distinctive noses….And they are not improving. Every year they have few tracks where they are strong at like Monaco, Mexico and Brazil (this year they even struggle at Monaco) and rest of the races they are struggling for a podium. Time for them to accept/adapt that maybe others got better aero ideas/philosophy and Newey is no longer the best aero guy.

    1. @amg44
      Lauda wanted to supply Red Bull with Mercedes engines, but Wolff refused.

      The main difference between Red Bull and Mercedes is engine power, not chassis. The reason to why Red Bull are usually very competitive around circuits like Monaco and Singapore is because engine power deficit doesn’t matter as much.

      1. @kingshark Wrong again. Mercedes wanted to supply Red Bull with their engines and gave Lauda authority to make a deal. Instead of making a deal, Mateschitz first went to Ferrari to see if he could get a deal there. Ferrari refused and after that Mercedes knew Red Bull was just going to be bad. Logically Mercedes pulled out too.

        As indicated in the article, rake causes drag. That’s what makes Red Bull’s car so slow on the fast tracks. They cannot shed enough downforce to overcome their inefficient car design. Instead, their extreme rake only helps at a few tracks.

    2. Power deficit means that in order to get a decent top speed, you sacrifice downforce. That’s been the case the last couple of years for RedBull. I feel that a more competitive engine could bring more downforce to the RedBull which in return makes them closer to Mercedes. With Honda the reliability is better then expected, but there’s still a massive power deficit.

  5. Is it just me or did the Merc front wing have a more noticable taper down in elements towards the endplates at France a’la Ferrari / Alfa / Torro Rosso?

    Maybe I imagined it as haven’t seen it covered online but certainly looked it in some of the shots as they were leaving the pits.

  6. The title has it backwards. Hamilton is wondering why other teams don’t adopt Mercedes’ designs.

Comments are closed.