Toto Wolff has conceded that Mercedes "misinterpreted" Formula 1 ground effect regulations after they finally switched to a more conventional concept.
The Silver Arrows pioneered a zero sidepod design last year, but the W13 and W14 cars were hampered by a lack of performance as Red Bull aced the new rules, with the Milton Keynes-based outfit on course to retain its championship titles this campaign.
Mercedes elected to stick with its radical concept into the current term but eventually abandoned it in favour of a more conventional design, which was introduced in Monaco and delivered a two-three result in Spain - leaving Lewis Hamilton and George Russell to believe the upgraded car to be the best they've driven since the new regulations were introduced.
The German manufacturer's problems were initially believed to be centred around porpoising, but this only hid the fundamental issues at play.
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"We had to work through this because we had also discovered that the [previous] direction just simply didn't work," Team Principal Wolff told media, including RacingNews365.com, when asked about discovering the original concept was flawed.
"We are a team of people that won eight consecutive championships, but we got it wrong last year. We tried to find out what it was, we didn't understand, and things got better towards the end of the season.
"The regulations were changed which we misinterpreted, and we start from zero.
"The learning is tremendously important also going forward. It will be part of the continuous journey of the team.
"My perspective is not one season, but 10 or 20 seasons of this team, and the learning, as painful as it is, as annoying as these days are, it's just absolutely necessary to establish a sustainable basis."
Taking sidepods out of the equation
McLaren boss Andrea Stella has explained that the zero sidepods failed as wider sidepods can act as a "mini-skirt" with which to seal the floor and improve performance, with the skinny design Mercedes stuck with fatally flawed.
The floor of the cars are much more important however, but Wolff says the team elected to change the sidepods just to remove the question around them.
"The engineers say they make no difference," Wolff said.
"These cars generate most of the downforce through the floor, not through the engine cover.
"You just want to take factors out of the equation and that was clearly: 'If we were to return to a more conventional sidepod/engine cover, at least we don't need to discuss that anymore.'"
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