More power, more downforce
Technical directors going public to describe their new car isn’t exactly normal, given the poker-face secrecy that has always been at the heart of F1’s competitive intensity. That Allison was happy to not only speak but actually make a video about the W11 really raises eyebrows – and can be taken as a sign of sky-high confidence and belief. Again, we can almost hear the groans emanating from Maranello and Milton Keynes.
Allison explained the key areas Mercedes has worked on to go aggressive on the design. Significant structural work on the front end and an “adventurous” approach to the rear suspension and geometry should bring greater flexibility in aerodynamic development, while he was happy to admit Mercedes has followed its rivals in adopting high-shaped sidepods and a raised side crash structure, again for aero gains.
Significantly, the tech director also praised Merc’s Brixworth-based HPP division for finding “lots of fresh horses” from a “really impressive upgrade” to the powertrain. More than that, he said for a third straight season power unit gains have been made that directly benefit the aerodynamics of the chassis. The hybrid turbo V6 can now run hotter, meaning radiators can be reduced further in size and help create an even “slimmer” car.
In conclusion, Allison described it as a “good winter” for the team: “We’ve got a car that is streaks ahead of [the W10] in terms of downforce,” he said. Added to all this, of course, is the sensational innovation that left Allison with a big smile he couldn’t hide last week when the penny dropped with rivals of what his team had come up with. The ‘dual-axis steering’ system, which allows the drivers to change the toe-in and toe-out angle of the front tyres in corners by pulling and pushing the steering wheel, helping to increase grip in corners without compromising straight-line speed, is pure F1 at its best. The system will be banned for 2021 – but it’s legal for this year. And it will take months for the other teams to make their own.
Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas both set comfortably fast times on their days in the car last week. As starts go, it couldn’t really have gone much better.
When’s the first F1 race of 2020? How many races are there this season? Have a look at the 2020 Formula 1 calendar here.