EXCLUSIVE: Ex-F1 CTO Casts Doubt On Mercedes & Aston Martin’s Low-Rake Performance Claim

A former CTO of an F1 team has said he believes Aston Martin are making excuses for failing to adapt to the regulation changes.

Toto Wolff at Imola in 2021 - Formula1news.co.uk

Mercedes and Aston Martin’s claim that the 2021 regulation tweaks have hurt low-rake cars considerably more than their high-rake rivals isn’t necessarily true, a former chief technical officer (CTO) of an F1 team told Formula1News.co.uk on Monday.

Since last month, both teams have argued that they have fallen down the pecking order this season due to the mandated cuts to the rear floor area causing their cars, which follow a low-rake aero design philosophy, to lose more performance than the rest of the grid.

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Aston Martin team principal Otmar Szafnauer has been the most vocal critic of the regulation changes, and he recently suggested the FIA should consider taking action to offset the performance low-rake cars have lost.

“We as a team have to work hard to try to claw back everything we can but at the same time we should be having the discussions with the FIA to see if anything can be done to make it a bit more equitable,” Szafnauer said ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

However, a former CTO of an F1 team, who didn’t want to be named, said he believes Aston Martin are simply making excuses for failing to adapt to the regulation changes.

“This low-rake vs high-rake argument [with regards to how the regulation changes have affected performance] sounds very good and for whatever reason seems to have been accepted by the F1 community or the media at least, but I’m not convinced it’s as simple as that,” he told this publication.

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“What seems more likely to me is Aston Martin haven’t done a particularly good job in the winter and are now looking for an excuse.

“I imagine having someone like Lawrence [Stroll] demanding answers and results is pushing the team to make excuses and deflect.

“If you look at Alpine, you can see another team which seems to have fallen down the pecking order this year and it’s not due to this low-rake vs high-rake debate.”

He also said he believes Mercedes haven’t lost more performance than other teams this year due to their car having a low-rake aero design philosophy; instead, he thinks the Silver Arrows are just trying to portray themselves as the underdogs, while Red Bull have done an exceptionally good job developing their package since the end of last season.

“From the first two races, it certainly doesn’t seem Mercedes have lost much performance relative to everyone else – and, for me, this raises more doubts about Otmar and Toto Wolff’s argument.

“They always like to downplay their raw speed and are portraying themselves as the underdog this year, but the reality is things look very close between Red Bull and Mercedes,” he concluded.

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