Why is the Merc a lemon this year?

Why is the Merc a lemon this year?

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Discussion

pistonheadforum

Original Poster:

656 posts

102 months

Monday 20th June
quotequote all
By that I mean what is the main reason likely to be that a team that constently came up with the best car over the past 7 years producing such a terrible car this year?

Lots of staff leaving (poached), radical design idea that turned out to be a disaster, poor development decisions made by the tea boy who was suddenly made head of design?

Has there been a derth of talent from the team or is just one of these things that a happens even to the best team?

pistonheadforum

Original Poster:

656 posts

102 months

Monday 20th June
quotequote all
What is likely to be needing done to get it back on track or is it just a case of writing off this year and going again next year? If that's the case what will actually need to happen to make next years car be back on the pace.

This probably seems like a strange thread but I'm genuinely puzzled how a team can go from hero to zero in a year.

Oilchange

8,179 posts

241 months

Monday 20th June
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Probably hasn't been developed to the higher standard that the others have or simply they have found that 1% that the Mercs haven't.
They'll bounce back but it's anyone's guess when. Hope Hamilton gets his eighth is all I can say.

jules_s

3,480 posts

214 months

Monday 20th June
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We may never know...

My thoughts are they have over complicated it - compared to a more simplistic/basic solution and now they are trying to unpick the complexity (as opposed to advancing the basics)

phil1979

3,321 posts

196 months

Monday 20th June
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Hero to zero? Jesus.

They were a podium this weekend. Stop falling for the Toto/Lewis circle-jerk flounce.

TobyTR

1,049 posts

127 months

Tuesday 21st June
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Hardly a terrible car when it's consistently finishing in the top-5 with one of its drivers. The Williams... now that's a terrible almost undrivable car hehe

At this rate George is more likely to get his first world championship than Lewis his 8th...

StevieBee

11,258 posts

236 months

Tuesday 21st June
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From what I can deduce, the problem cannot be simulated in a wind tunnel or CAD. It's very track specific and you have to test to work out what's the solution. Back in the day, they'd have hired Donnington for a week and no doubt solved the problem. As it is, they are limited to three sessions at a GP weekend so the rate of resolve is far less than it might otherwise have been.

Why the issue has arisen in the first place is simply a result of a fundamental change in the design philosophy of the cars. This always creates the propensity for some team to strike gold and others to find only mud. It's not just Mercedes. Had things stayed as they I were, I've no doubt that Mercedes would be fighting for wins this year and who'd have thought we'd see Hass up there?

They've lost a lot of people to Red Bull and I suspect that has had an impact too.

paulguitar

17,139 posts

94 months

Tuesday 21st June
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phil1979 said:
Hero to zero? Jesus.

They were a podium this weekend. Stop falling for the Toto/Lewis circle-jerk flounce.
They have very high standards. Serial winners tend to look at being some way off what they are used to as failing.


They are not 'flouncing' either, are they? They are trying to improve.



TypeRTim

724 posts

75 months

Tuesday 21st June
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I think one of the key things is that this is one of the most drastic changes in F1 design/aero philosophy since the banning of in-season testing in 2009. Since then, the formula has been tweaked and altered slightly, but nothing to the extent of these regulations.

This has meant that the cars have been designed and 'tested' almost entirely in virtual environments for the first time in F1 history. As has been well publicised, these virtual environments are far from perfect, with almost none of the teams predicting that they would have anywhere near the level of porpoising issues that they found when they rocked up to Barcelona for pre-season.

Mercedes have been saying that there is potential in that car, and I don't disbelieve them. However, it looks like it has a very narrow operating window and they are still desperately trying to correlate numbers from the track to numbers from the sims (running split configurations and setups across the drivers etc.)

The cost cap will start to hurt them towards the middle to tail end of the season too as they will have spent a lot of their budget on trying to understand the problems they are facing.

realjv

999 posts

147 months

Tuesday 21st June
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Probably its an accumulation of things but with natural turnover of personnel being the primary one.
Success is awfully good at hiding failings and Merc have no doubt learnt many things about weaknesses this year they didn't even know they had.

Mercs car has the most extreme version of porpoising/bouncing on the grid and no doubt they are going to learn from it and maybe reach a point where they understand and crucially can predict it. The interesting and often unasked question that goes with that is do the other teams understand why they don't suffer to such an extreme extent?

Zarco

15,638 posts

190 months

Tuesday 21st June
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Not sure why Merc have fallen from grace, but it's no coincidence Red Bull are on top when they have Adrian Newey looking after their aero.

Piginapoke

3,773 posts

166 months

Tuesday 21st June
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Hubris

vaud

45,936 posts

136 months

Tuesday 21st June
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StevieBee said:
From what I can deduce, the problem cannot be simulated in a wind tunnel or CAD. It's very track specific and you have to test to work out what's the solution. Back in the day, they'd have hired Donnington for a week and no doubt solved the problem. As it is, they are limited to three sessions at a GP weekend so the rate of resolve is far less than it might otherwise have been.
Renting a track would not have helped much in my view - the issue has been worse at street circuits?


StevieBee

11,258 posts

236 months

Tuesday 21st June
quotequote all
vaud said:
StevieBee said:
From what I can deduce, the problem cannot be simulated in a wind tunnel or CAD. It's very track specific and you have to test to work out what's the solution. Back in the day, they'd have hired Donnington for a week and no doubt solved the problem. As it is, they are limited to three sessions at a GP weekend so the rate of resolve is far less than it might otherwise have been.
Renting a track would not have helped much in my view - the issue has been worse at street circuits?
They could ask the local council to close off a few rounds round Brackley smile

You're right. The thing though is that they can't simulate the issue - or at least to a meaningful level. It needs to happen for 'real'.

TypeRTim

724 posts

75 months

Tuesday 21st June
quotequote all
StevieBee said:
vaud said:
StevieBee said:
From what I can deduce, the problem cannot be simulated in a wind tunnel or CAD. It's very track specific and you have to test to work out what's the solution. Back in the day, they'd have hired Donnington for a week and no doubt solved the problem. As it is, they are limited to three sessions at a GP weekend so the rate of resolve is far less than it might otherwise have been.
Renting a track would not have helped much in my view - the issue has been worse at street circuits?
They could ask the local council to close off a few rounds round Brackley smile

You're right. The thing though is that they can't simulate the issue - or at least to a meaningful level. It needs to happen for 'real'.
You've clearly never dealt with South Northamptonshire Council!!!

2ZZ Top

2,713 posts

120 months

Tuesday 21st June
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Oilchange said:
They'll bounce back
I see what you did there.

wpa1975

4,324 posts

95 months

Tuesday 21st June
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I think it was unfair on all the teams with the new rules that they allowed so little testing.

Muzzer79

6,871 posts

168 months

Tuesday 21st June
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1. It's not a "lemon"

They are third in the constructor's championship. George Russell is fourth in the Driver's championship and hasn't finished lower than 5th.

They clearly have the third fastest car. A lot of teams would kill to have the third fastest car.

2. Performance is cyclical. One cannot dominate forever.

This has been true since the dawn of Formula One. Look at history:

Red Bull couldn't dominate past 2013
Ferrari couldn't dominate past 2004
Williams couldn't dominate past 1997
McLaren couldn't dominate past 1991
And so on...

It takes a combination of so many things to create the fastest F1 car and win titles with it. Frankly, it's amazing that Mercedes have managed it for the last 8 years - that's unprecedented.

It consistently surprises me how people seem to think that they were just going to continue winning unabated - it's never happened before, why should it now?

Sandpit Steve

6,852 posts

55 months

Tuesday 21st June
quotequote all
Muzzer79 said:
1. It's not a "lemon"

They are third in the constructor's championship. George Russell is fourth in the Driver's championship and hasn't finished lower than 5th.

They clearly have the third fastest car. A lot of teams would kill to have the third fastest car.

2. Performance is cyclical. One cannot dominate forever.

This has been true since the dawn of Formula One. Look at history:

Red Bull couldn't dominate past 2013
Ferrari couldn't dominate past 2004
Williams couldn't dominate past 1997
McLaren couldn't dominate past 1991
And so on...

It takes a combination of so many things to create the fastest F1 car and win titles with it. Frankly, it's amazing that Mercedes have managed it for the last 8 years - that's unprecedented.

It consistently surprises me how people seem to think that they were just going to continue winning unabated - it's never happened before, why should it now?
Indeed so, it’s hardly a lemon. There’s seven other teams that would love to be third in the championship at the moment, and fourteen other drivers who would love to be in the top six!

What the car did have, was a pronounced porpoising issue, the fix to which has been to make the suspension very stiff, which causes bouncing on uneven surfaces - which have featured heavily in the first half of this season. From now, only Singapore is a street circuit, and the other events are all on permanent racetracks, something that should make a difference both in performance and data collection.

The issues were not seen (by any of the teams) in wind tunnel and CFD, because of the way these tools work. Physical testing is all but banned these days, except under controlled conditions.

The budget cap and testing cap are also doing what they were designed to do, which is to stop a team throwing lots of money at the problem. Previously, they’d be hiring aerodynamicists like crazy, and having the wind tunnel and CFD models running 24/7 - all things that are no longer allowed. Go back a bit further in time, and they’d be running a car somewhere every other day, as Schumacher used to do at Fioriano.

These rules we know are frustrating for the top teams, but they wil bring the field gradually closer together. I suspect that one team in particular, has spent most of their annual development budget in the first half of the season, and will be looking for non-F1 things for dozens of people to do in the second half of the year.

HustleRussell

22,131 posts

141 months

Tuesday 21st June
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In my opinion it is the case that Mercedes decided to pursue a concept which is clearly different to that which was anticipated by the rulemakers. There are elements within the regs which tend to guide constructors in the direction of a conventional sidepod, however Mercedes' interpretation is very creative. I was actually surprised they were successful in arguing that the upper side impact spar was a mirror mount, for example.

The biggest problem they appear to have is that with the loads and distribution on the floor and without the volume of the upper bodywork to work within they have great difficulty tying the floor structurally.

I have been of the view since the cars first hit the track that Mercedes have picked a radical concept which probably appears to have a very high ceiling of potential in the design environment but which is going to take some time and probably some compromise to get working.

In late cycle developments of previous formulas we have seen how much attention is paid to shrink-wrapping the packaging and the cooling in pursuit of ultimate aerodynamic efficiency.

I am not surprised that teams which have turned up with cars which more closely resemble the working group wind tunnel model have found it much easier to get their cars working. However, I wouldn't be at all surprised if those teams hit a development ceiling and by year three were beginning to evolve in Mercedes' direction.

That said we don't yet know how the regulations may be tweaked as time goes on.