Mercedes' technical director reveals the major shortcomings of the W15

In explaining efforts to optimize the performance window for the W15, Allison explained that the team is working to understand why their competitiveness varies

by Sead Dedovic
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Mercedes' technical director reveals the major shortcomings of the W15
© Dan Mullan/Getty Images Sport

Mercedes has started the season with huge problems. Despite expectations that this German team would start this season more fiercely, ready to correct mistakes from the past, things seem to be even worse than in previous seasons. Wolff spoke to the media about the issues his team is facing. The Mercedes team principal isn't happy with such problems, but he's aware that he must remain optimistic because that's the only option left for him. 

Technical director James Allison is one of those who confirmed to the media that Mercedes still has issues with wind tunnel data not correlating with on-track performance in the team's most recent post-race debrief video. He emphasized that correlation problems are always present with any issue.

“In simple terms yes.

"There are always correlation issues in every year in every team and there always will be correlation issues between what you see in the factory and what you see on the track because the factory is a sort of reduced version of reality."- he said, as quoted by crash.net

James Allison confirmed that driving a car on the real track makes a huge difference. Looking back at the factory model, Allison pointed out there are many shortcomings.

“It is not the same as driving a car on a real track on the actual asphalt of the actual circuit with all its infinite detail and complexity.

You have simplified models back here in the factory and those simplified models are powerful for steering you one way or the other. But all of them have their shortcomings and all of them have their correlation issues."- he continued.

In discussing the issue, Allison pointed out that while the simulation tools and models available to the team are generally effective in optimizing lap times, there's always room for improvement, particularly in achieving a better balance between high and low-speed performance. He noted that discrepancies between on-track performance and virtual simulations exist, especially in this aspect. Addressing these differences would improve the accuracy of the team's projections and help identify and rectify factors hindering the car's performance.

George Russell driving the (63) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W15 on track during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi
George Russell driving the (63) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W15 on track during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi© Clive Mason/Getty Images Sport
 

Explaining the performance discrepancy observed between final practice and qualifying in Melbourne, Allison highlighted a potential correlation between track temperature and Mercedes' competitiveness. He noted that while the team showed promising pace in cooler conditions during practice, there was a significant drop-off in performance during qualifying, coinciding with warmer track temperatures. 

This led to unexpected challenges, illustrated by Hamilton's surprising exit in Q2. Allison emphasized that despite no setup changes between FP3 and qualifying, the team's performance varied notably with temperature fluctuations. This observation suggests a need for adjustments to optimize performance in warmer conditions going forward.
 

Mercedes executives are hopeful that things can change in the coming weeks. They are optimistic that the future holds better stories for them, but it's clear that they are frustrated by the same problems week after week. It's particularly frustrating when you strive to find a solution but to no avail.

James Allison explains his team's efforts

In illustrating efforts to optimize the performance window for the W15, Allison confirmed that the team is working to understand why their competitiveness varies. By specifying these factors accurately, they can create a strategic approach for each race weekend aimed at adjusting the temperature balance to their advantage using conventional setup tools. This initial work is carried out at the factory through simulations and analysis.

James Allison
James Allison© Dan Mullan/Getty Images Sport
 

However, if standard setup adjustments aren't sufficient in addressing performance issues, it suggests that there may be underlying characteristics in the car's aerodynamic or suspension design deepening the problem. Fixing these underlying issues may require more complex adjustments, which can vary in their complexity and level of involvement. Allison described this process as potentially straightforward or more complex, depending on the specific challenges faced.

Toto Wolff isn't satisfied but he tries to be optimistic

Toto Wolff also pointed out in an interview with the media that it is difficult to deal with problems from week to week. He is aware that this kind of atmosphere does not give reason for optimism, but it is the only thing left for him.

Toto Wolff
Toto Wolff© Francois Nel / Getty Images Sport
 

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell are not happy with what they are dealing with week in and week out, but they hope that the Mercedes chiefs will fix these things.

Mercedes does not resemble the team we once had the chance to watch, given that they are far from being at the very top. That doesn't seem like a realistic option at this point.

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