Mercedes evaluating whether Red Bull sidepod design would offer gains – Elliott

2022 British Grand Prix

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Mercedes is evaluating Red Bull’s sidepod design as it considers whether to persist with its unique ‘zeropod’ concept.

Fellow Mercedes power unit users Aston Martin and Williams have introduced upgrades to their cars in recent races which have moved them closer to Red Bull’s sidepod design.

However Mercedes’ technical director Mike Elliott says the obvious differences between the upper surfaces of their chassis and the championship leader’s doesn’t necessarily indicate why Red Bull’s car has been quicker than theirs.

“People look at the car and they look at the differences and think ‘that’s massive, that’s got to be the big difference that’s there’,” said Elliott. “I think an aerodynamicist would tell you the really important bits are what’s underneath the floor, the wings and the key aerodynamic structures. While the bodywork contributes to that, it’s not the defining feature.

“It’s been well-publicised the difficulty of what we’ve done with the narrow sidepod means you’ve got a big, cantilevered floor. Managing that and managing the stiffness of that is a challenge.

“I think we, like probably all of the teams, will evaluate what we’ve got, we’ll look at what others have done and work out what we think are the right ways forward. And I think for us so far the aim has been to generate as much understanding as quickly as we can and then work out what are the right things to do from there.”

Elliott said that even at the 10th race of the season it’s not yet clear which is the best approach to the 2022 Formula 1 regulations.

“Have we got the right concept? It’s almost impossible to say because you only sort of play your cars, you never play everybody else’s cars. As for the mechanical aspects of the car we’re learning like everybody’s learning and I’m sure there’s more to gain in that area.

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“But I think we need to just keep chipping away at it. We’re pretty honest with ourselves, we’ve not started on the front foot and we just need to look at where our weakness is, look at how we improve and just keep bringing those upgrades as fast as we can and within the cost cap as well.”

Mercedes won’t be too proud to follow Red Bull’s lead on design if they eventually decide it is the best way to develop their car, said Elliott.

“The bodywork bit, the bit that’s visibly different, is probably not the key differentiator, it’s the detail in the floor design. We’ve evaluated some concepts in that direction.

“I’m not going to say which way we’re going to go but we’ll look at that. I think we’d be silly not to have a level of humility that you think you’ve potentially got it wrong and you go and look at what everybody else has done. And that’s not just the Red Bull concept, that’s looking at all the concepts up and down the grid and saying what looks interesting and why.”

Elliott said the team will only move towards a different concept if they are confident they understand exactly how it performs and that is offers an advantage over their current design.

“[What you] try to do is understand what you think is happening in the flow field, work out what you want to do with the flow field and then develop the bodywork shapes from there. So we’ll go and look and say ‘what do we think the Red Bull bodywork does and why does it do that?’ And the same for all the other cars up and down the grid, and see what we can learn from that.

“We’ll see what we can apply and then maybe you’ll see changes this year, maybe you’ll see changes next year or maybe we’ll stick with where we are. They’re the questions we’re trying to answer.”

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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 “Mercedes evaluating whether Red Bull sidepod design would offer gains – Elliott”

  1. Interesting that he mentions the cost cap. Given that Mercedes has already tried a different sidepod design in testing, and has brought numerous changes to the floor as well, not to mention various other smaller updates; at some point they’re going to have to adjust their plans for this season to not being able to spend nearly half a billion a year anymore.

    1. I mean, they didn’t really try those side pods, they were being arrogant and “hiding” their brilliant zeropod concept. They never had any intention of driving those side pods from the first week, so I doubt they got any even remotely good data out of running them for their aero package

      1. Why do you label them as arrogant for hiding their sidepod design? What’s arrogant about that? Look what a projection that is. First week of testing was about system checks and reliability. It made total sense to delay the competitors knowing what you’re up to. It’s part of the game.

  2. “… it considers whether to persist with its unique ‘zeropod’ concept.”
    Not unique, since Williams had it as well and before Mercedes.

    It’s somewhat odd that RedBull serves as the model for the best aero solution when it’s Ferrari who have in fact had the fastest design.

    1. Ferrari has the one lap pace but not the long run pace which is why redbull gets them in the race. Ferrari arent kind on their tires either. Redbull been better there as well. As an overall package and also one with less porpoising, Redbull is the benchmark.

    2. Naughty Neutral
      2nd July 2022, 13:17

      So… Red Bull… Green Bull… Blue Bull… Silver Bull?

    3. The Ferrari is fast over one lap, but has worse handling, worse tyre management, worse top speed (important in the still DRS dominated era). Red Bull’s balance is on the whole much better. They sacrificed a tiny bit of one lap pace, but are running away with the championship.

  3. Its all about aero, sealing the air under the car, preventing air spilling out. There’s also the secondary issue of cooling the engine. If Mercedes does adopt the Redbull pods it will be interesting to see what they do with the potential increased airflow into their engines given their existing water/ air cooling solution. With the extra air intake they could turn the engine up a notch, whilst taking the hit for the extra drag created by the larger pods.

    More than the exteria air flow there’s also a question on how Redbull are ducting their air intake, eg what proportion of that airflow is being used in an aero capacity, and what proportion goes to the engine. Its imposible to tell from appearances.

    I have to say the Mercedes slim pod design would have better suited the previous hybred spec. The current spec is all about aero, so that has to come before anything else.

  4. Have we got the right concept?

    That’s an easy answer: No. No, you haven’t. Which is why you (as a team) have been whining to get the rules changed.

  5. I wonder what happened to Mercedes’ first showing. That fat pod design they showed very briefly, may have been a worked alternative.

    I believe Mercedes were lead by their high tech cooling solution, they saw all the benifits of that before they actually considered the problem.

  6. When they switched the pod design in testing I thought to myself.
    “Well. They are either ahead of the field design wise once again – or they have blown it big time.”

    It’s good to see them fighting back so hard they need to be thankful that they have two of the finest drivers on the grid but I think we will see a very different Merc next season.

  7. Is Mercedes Crying WOLFF again, with this tactic of changing Aero designs, mid season? Or is it just a DECOY, or RED HERRING, to mislead their rivals? Mercedes is a great, great team, with extra ordinary depth of talent, research and $$$. The psychological games they REPEATEDLY play with their competitors, are also some of the best. Remember the saying “YOU CAN’T ALWAYS’S BELIEVE YOUR OWN PRESS RELEASES” My 2 cents

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