Although much of his work focuses on aerodynamic and mechanical improvements to tame the bounce-back suffered by Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, he hasn’t made the mistake of putting all his efforts behind that one problem.
Instead, he’s made sure to keep up with as much regular development as possible to ensure he’s in the right position to capitalize on things when he finally does solve his main problem.
That’s why a look at his car setup at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix showed a new stay protruding from his mirror solution, something that seems tiny in the grand scheme of things but is evidence of the mindset he’s adopted. Mercedes.
The new stay appeared for the first time under the Side Impact Structure (SIS) fairing that has housed the team’s mirror solution this year.
Like the German automaker’s use of the segmented support arrangement on the SIS’s top surface, which proved controversial when first seen by rival teams, the new surface is redundant from a support perspective. Instead, its intent is completely streamlined.
Like the segmented surfaces used to influence airflow on the top surface of the SIS, which are also a feature used by AlphaTauri, this new surface conforms to the limits of the bounding boxes set in the standards.
This means that while there could be some debate as to whether or not the suspension is actually necessary to act as a mirror mount, it is entirely legal within the wording of F1 regulations.
The change is small and probably inconsequential from a performance point of view, as much of the W13’s pace is dependent on the porpoise issue, but it is clear to the team that they have to keep upgrading their car as much as possible at the moment.
George Russell, Mercedes W13, is returned to the garage
Photo by: Mark Sutton/Motorsport Images
Asked by Motorsport.com why Mercedes has produced something that seems so insignificant to the overall problems facing the team, track engineering director Andrew Shovlin said: “It’s a very, very small change.
“But when you have a car that’s difficult to work with and it’s not fast enough, you don’t want to leave all your development work in the tunnel because that’s just wasted time.
“If you stop for a month, you’ll be the equivalent of that back, in terms of development, by the end of the year.
“So one of the challenges that we’re facing now, which is really new for us in the last couple of years, is trying to solve some major issues, fundamental issues with the rebound or the handling of the car, at the same time as you make sure you can continue to increase performance.
Shovlin admits that even small-car upgrades could end up playing a big role in his porpoise’s aerodynamic influence, but ultimately, it’s best to keep developments going.
“We’re trying to avoid doing things that might confuse the picture,” he added.
“But equally, we look at the parts and think well, we can just put that in and we know the effect will be a very small step in the right direction.
“Those kinds of bits are insignificant, but typical of the kinds of things we have to keep doing to make sure we don’t stand still.”
Ferrari F1-75 Mirror
Photo by: Giorgio Piola
Mercedes wasn’t the only team to tweak the design of its mirrors in Baku, with Ferrari also introducing changes for a small aerodynamic gain, following in the footsteps of many others on the grid with a similar solution.
Instead of having a sinuous connection point on the side of the cockpit transition (inset), there is now a vertical surface at the top of the cockpit transition that the horizontal part of the mirror mount intersects with.
However, it does so in a way that creates a fin to help guide airflow.