Mercedes likely to make radical design changes as they could copy Red Bull’s aero package

Mercedes have been third in the Constructors' Standings for much of the 2022 season.

Mercedes remain loyal to the aerodynamic concept that they started the season with despite their struggles so far this season.

Sir Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have managed seven podiums between them so far in 2022, and have not finished any higher than third as they grapple with a misbehaving W13 car.

The car has perennially been slower than Red Bull and Ferrari so far this season, and the gap has been around a second so far at this weekend’s French Grand Prix – a race where the Silver Arrows were expected to perform particularly well.

Doubt has often been cast around their skinny sidepod design after they all but removed them ahead of the second pre-season test, but changing the concept would mean learning the car all over again – it already took long enough to solve their “porpoising” issues.

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So they will stick with what they have for this year, but they are searching around for inspiration going into next season, when the car could look very different.

“We don’t think that just changing our sidepod will change our competitiveness,” explained trackside engineer Andrew Shovlin.

“We’re certainly not of that mind, nor are we wedded to saying this is how the Mercedes car must look. 

“From the very early part of the year we’re looking at other teams’ bodywork and certainly with a view to next year, looking up and down the grid to see ideas.

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“And it may be that we don’t just take another team’s idea, we’re looking at combinations of different concepts, but it’s a gradual process. 

“I think fundamentally our car isn’t going to change appearance massively this season but I’d be surprised if next year’s car looks the same.”

Technical director Mike Elliott indicated that it would be a sign of arrogance not to consider making changes given that there are two teams who have patently made a better car than them, so they will explore the avenues that other teams have gone down to inform their design going forward.

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“I think we’d be silly not to have a level of humility that you think you’ve potentially got it wrong and you go and look at what everybody else has done,” he added.

“That’s not just the Red Bull concept, that’s looking at all the concepts up and down the grid and saying, ‘What looks interesting and why?”

“We’ll go and look and say, ‘What do we think the Red Bull bodywork does and why does it do that?’ 

“The same for all the other cars up and down the grid, and [we will] see what we can learn from that, see what we can apply.”

Hamilton and Russell will start the French Grand Prix fourth and sixth respectively in France on Sunday after salvaging a decent qualifying from what had looked a tough weekend during practice.