New Mercedes adopts rivals’ sidepod design but features “adventurous” new suspension

2020 F1 season

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Mercedes technical director James Allison says the team’s new W11 has adopted some design elements seen on rival cars but also features “adventurous” innovations.

The team has worked on “every square millimetre of the car” in pursuit of improvements, said Allison, and made major changes in three areas.

“At the front we have accepted more structural complexity around the uprights and wheel rims in order to provide a higher performance assembly overall,” he said.

“In the middle of the car we have followed the pit lane trend by moving our upper side impact tube to the lower position and banking the aerodynamic gain that comes with this layout.

“At the rear of the car we have gone for an adventurous suspension layout in order to free up aerodynamic development opportunity. All three investments were improvements in their own right, but their real effect is to mobilise a raft of secondary aerodynamic gains both during the winter and, we hope, across the season to come.”

Last year Mercedes ran their new car in a basic aerodynamic configuration at the start of testing, then introduced a raft of new parts in the final week of running before the first race. Allison said the team does not intend to do the same this year.

[smr2020test]”We will be more conventional this year,” he confirmed. “We will still have upgrades for Melbourne that will come in the second week of testing, but the entire new car approach of 2019 won’t feature.

“Last year, the regulations were changed quite significantly, and they were decided quite late in the year. Under those circumstances, doing a launch car and a week two car gave us the chance to build the maximum amount of learning into our Melbourne car.

“With the regulations being more mature this year and with the opening stab of the 2020 development already being at the same level as the finish of last year’s car, repeating last year’s approach would not make sense.”

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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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12 comments on “New Mercedes adopts rivals’ sidepod design but features “adventurous” new suspension”

  1. They must really think they’re onto something with the rear suspension design because there aren’t any pictures that really show it clearly. Looking forward to seeing what they’ve come up with, and whether or not it’s something that can be easily copied by other teams.

    1. And they are hiding their humongous cape. Rb was avoiding head on shots on their merc copy nose.

    2. Indeed they have been clever with the images that they released not to show it in great deal @partsguy20

      I assume that seeing as they mentioned it to media, it can’t be something that’s easily copied

      1. It seems as if Mercedes are already thinking ahead of their rivals likely efforts to copy them. For that reason they wont be showing their full hand until their rivals have taken the bait. Reminds me of the cul-de-sac Ferrari found themselves in with their own design choices.

  2. Much more curious to see whats under the engine cover.

  3. If Mercedes says their suspension is adventurous. It must be something very special.

  4. And let the games now begin.

  5. Service point ….
    In the above pic, there is an interesting detail where there would “normally” be a small Plexiglas wind screen or deflector in front of the driver. What is shown is a saw-tooth feature. What is this for.?
    There is reference in various papers to saw-tooth trailing edges for noise reduction. I have also seen references for the same on wing trailing edges to reduce stall sensitivity. In this case, there may be a benefit to drag reduction as the Reynolds No. looks to be around 3,500 to 5,000 (1.0 m length at 50 to 80 m/sec), just in the transition zone.
    Clearly it is there for a reason. Any enlightenment would be appreciated.

  6. I’m not sure if describing something that moves (like suspension) as ‘adventurous’ is a good thing. It sounds like a positive reframing like saying a small house is ‘cosy’. I could imagine a used car dealer telling me the suspension on this Ford Focus is ‘adventurous’.

    1. Not sure how you confuse Mercedes technical director James Allison with a used car dealer


  7. It strikes me how this sidepod design is spreading, at last acquired by Mercedes team. If I’m correct this design stems from Dirk de Beer’s engagement at Ferrari. He immediately tried to apply it on FW41 but had to leave Williams because geniuses from Grove thought the aero package was to blame for poor performance. Life isn’t fair sometimes, I hope Dirk makes it with Renault although I’m afraid Enstone suffers from the same illness – poor understanding of the ways how suspension characteristics influence aero package.

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