Mercedes chief technical officer James Allison says his team are out to prove that the their dominance between 2014 and 2021 was not just a fluke, as Formula 1 enters a brand-new era.
The sport is undergoing sweeping technical changes ahead of the new season, as a ground effect-led aerodynamic swing sees a radical change in the appearance of the cars.
The significant reduction in aerodynamic efficiency is intended to help drivers follow more closely, thus improving the racing spectacle for fans.
Mercedes nailed the last overhaul of the regulations, and were by far and away the quickest team after the turn of the hybrid era in 2014.
They have now claimed all of the last eight Constructors’ Championships, and seven of the last eight Drivers’ Championships.
Sir Lewis Hamilton lost out to Max Verstappen in 2021, and the fact that it took so long for any team to take Mercedes to the final race of the season in either championship tells you everything you need to know about the sheer dominance and prowess the Brackley-based team have had in F1 in recent years.
Allison, who joined Mercedes in 2017, is keen to prove that the serial constructors’ champions have not merely been fortunate for the last eight years, and that they can still compete in the highest echelons of the sport with the new regulations.
“This year we see it as an opportunity to show that it hasn’t just been luck over the years,” he said in a Mercedes YouTube video.
“We haven’t merely stumbled into a formula, it’s often talked about as the turbo-hybrid era, as if we sort of stumbled into some God-given right to be dominant all these last seasons.
“We see every regulation change as an opportunity to pit our wits against them and see whether we actually deserve still to be competitive, to see whether or not we can show afresh that we have understood the physics behind the car, that we have tried to translate that into designs and concepts, that we then realise in manufacturing and then deliver to the track in a way that allows us to be competitive once more.”
One of the many things Mercedes had over other teams in 2014 came on the engine manufacturing side, as Renault and Ferrari struggled to keep pace with the relentless power unit made in Brixworth.
The engines will have 20 less horsepower in 2022 – which Ferrari are said to have overcome after developing a new fuel blend with Shell – and a freeze means that power units cannot be developed once the season gets underway.
As a result, the former Ferrari technical director emphasises the importance of building an engine specification that will stand the test of time.
“The engine [is] one of the things that is less touched by the regulations,” he explained.
“Even there, the power unit has to be prepared so that it can be frozen for three years, all the goodness that you can possibly pack into it has to be packed into it now or forever hold your peace.
“Because after that changes will be very, very difficult to make real.”
Mercedes will unveil their 2022 challenger on 18 February, five days before the start of pre-season testing in Barcelona. They are set to line up with Hamilton and new signing George Russell ahead of the 2022 season, which gets underway on 20 March in Bahrain.