The F1 team from Berkeley acts mysteriously acts mysteriously in terms of money resources used to develope the new Mercedes W12, presented today, during a worldwide live-streaming on Mercedes' official YouTube channel.
Introducing the W12 🖤🥰 Get your first look at our 2021 F1 car! #WeLivePerformance pic.twitter.com/RiZEBTyarb
Last year's car, the W11, was the scene of many innovations, starting with the DAS (dual-axis steering system), which was banned in the upcoming season.
This 2021 season has left less room for innovation, because many technical and mechanical components have been frozen by the restrictive measures, of the new regulation, on the budgets of each team.
Teams are, however, allowed to spend a maximum of two tokens and they also got free field in terms of aerodynamics, so this is the range on which the teams are setting more goals.
Mercedes admitted to have made some changes to the cooling system and to the suspension, as can be seen in the images of the new car, also working on a lot of components that don't need tokens to undergo an upgrade.
The technical director, James Allison said that:
“The only thing we can say with certainty at this stage is that everybody’s cars will have significant areas that are the same as their 2020 car but those areas will vary from car to car, depending on how they chose to spend their tokens”
“We have spent our tokens, but we won’t reveal how we used them just yet. That’ll become clear in good time.”
Allison also expressly said that the "censorship" in the video presentation of the new car was deliberate, so as not to show opponents how Mercedes worked on the single-seater during the winter break.
“The bit we’re not showing you is down along the edge of the floor” he said.
“That area is the area that was most affected by the new regulations, where they tried to pull performance away from the car by changing the floor regs"
“And down there, there’s a bunch of aerodynamic detail that we are not quite ready to release to the world – not because it’s not there, but because we don’t want our competitors to see it, we don’t want them trying to put similar things into their windtunnels. It just buys us a couple of weeks extra"
“We all look very closely at what our competitors do, so we know our competitors will be looking. We don’t have to show it yet, so we’re not” he added.
Allison described the set of changes on the W12 (different rear floor, slots and diffuser fence) as "by far the largest technical development area" on the new car, referring to it as "a profound set of changes that affect the performance of the floor".
“Once the rules had been established, our task was to figure out how to recover the losses brought by the changes” he said.
“The rest of the aerodynamic work has been the normal fare of seeking out aerodynamic opportunity across every square centimetre of the car with particular attention to finding places where we can invest extra weight into fancier aerodynamic geometry.
“2021 permits the cars to be 6kg heavier, and we have an additional few kilos to spend as a result of DAS being banned.
“Beyond this, the carryover rules have confined us to figuring out how we can make some parts live longer, so we don’t have to replace or buy them so often.” he added.
Mercedes also put a lot of effort in solving the engine issues confirmed by Hywel Thomas, Manager Director and head of the powertrains department.
A few months ago he stated:
"We have some problems with the power units. We know we have difficulties but we have also put in place some programs to be able to solve them. I'm sure everything will be in order for the start of the season”.
Mercedes focused on making the PU more reliable during the winter stop and redesigned the MGU-K (Motor Generator Unit-Kinetic), another part that with the MGU-H composes the new modern Formula 1 Power Units.
The german team announced that has managed, despite the not very long timescales this year, to introduce some completely new innovations that will be in the racing PU for the first time.
According to the new regulation, teams can make changes to the engines until the end of the 2021 season, not referring to reliability issues.
This means that the engine, once introduced, will be frozen.
Thomas, referring to this matter, stated:
"We need to take more engines to winter testing, to the first race, but we don't want to freeze our designs any earlier because of that"
"So that puts some additional strain on the internal and external supply chains and the build and test team, to be able to develop the design for as long as possible"
“What we gain is another group of chassis designers looking at the PU, looking at how it works, how it’s integrated into the car, how it’s working with the rest of the package. We can add all those comments and ideas into the melting pot of this season and all the subsequent seasons" he concluded.