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Mercedes reveal 'big projects' that have hit 'available firepower'

Mercedes has focused a considerable amount of its cost cap budget for this season on two major developments

Mercedes AMG W15 E PERFORMANCE George Russell Rear Quarter
To news overview © Mercedes

Mercedes technical director James Allison has confirmed the team has been forced to 'pick and choose its battles' due to the cost cap which has had a major impact on the development of the new W15.

Team principal Toto Wolff revealed at the end of last season that almost every component was due to be changed for this year's car in a bid to return to the front after two campaigns of relative struggle given Mercedes' prior dominance.

But in an era when every team is now constrained by the cost cap, which for this year is again $135million, it means a major revamp of a car eats into those resources, as opposed to Red Bull's seemingly luxury position with its RB20 that represents evolution rather than revolution.

For Mercedes, in focusing on two key areas of the W15, they have had to be more mindful of costs with regard to development elsewhere, albeit with Allison confirming there is money available for updates throughout the season.

"A new chassis and a gearbox were standard for every year, pre-cost cap," said Allison. "And there'll be several other teams who have done both things in a single year.

"But the cost cap does force you to pick and choose your battles, and there's no doubt that having a new outer casing, as well as at the same time as having a new chassis, are two big projects that are going to take a chunk of our available firepower. That is what we have done this year.

"It does mean that in other parts of the car we have not tried to reinvent the wheel. But it has allowed us to undertake a couple of big projects without breaking the bank and we believe that this is a good and important use of our efforts."

Mercedes drew up overhaul last summer

Allison has confirmed that plans for what is a fundamental overhaul of the car were drawn up midway through last season.

Mercedes knew after qualifying for last year's season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix it had made a fundamental mistake in persevering with its concept from 2022 following the introduction of new aerodynamic regulations at the start of that year.

Key alterations were made and introduced but there was also the realisation that given the budget cap, it had to wait for the start of this year to deliver a radical redesign.

"Bigger layout changes are not freed up by no longer having the hassle of racing, you make those big layout changes prior to the summer," said Allison.

"So, when we talk about a layout change, you're generally talking about where the engine sits in the chassis, what geometry of rear suspension you're going to have on the gearbox and what changes you are going to make to the part that contains the driver.

"Those are all three things that are hypothetically doable in the middle of a year but come at such huge opportunity cost that you would never contemplate it. But nevertheless, you need to commit to them in the preceding summer.

"The off-season is about proving to yourself, on your internal rigs and simulators, that those pieces are what you hope they might be, that it looks like it will deliver on your hopes."

Plans in the pipeline

In conceding Mercedes has not 'broken the bank' with its major changes, it means there remains budget to tackle the in-season development that will be required to refine and improve on the early W15.

Allison is hoping that as the teams learns to understood about the car, it should be in a position to deliver the first upgrade by the start of the European season, which starts with the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in mid-May.

"Most of the lap time you can put on a car comes from aerodynamics during a season, but precisely what we find and in what area is still unknown," said Allison.

"The aerodynamic department is, at this stage of the year, planning to put a good amount of effort into front wings, rear wings, floor, brake drums, brake ducts, bodywork, all of which could produce things that might arrive for the European season.

"Several of those programmes will not come to fruition, but that is just the nature of experimentation.

"But if you try hard enough over a wide enough range of experiments, then enough of them will come good in that time scale and there should be a decent package to put on the car by the time we return to Europe."

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