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2021 rules cut performance to 2019 levels, says Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Credits: Daimler

Mercedes-AMG Technical Director James Allison believes that the new Formula 1 aerodynamic rules for 2021 cut the performance down to 2019 levels.

Allison explained the changes in a video published by Mercedes. “Four quite significant aerodynamic changes were made last year in anticipation of this new season,” he said.

“First and foremost, there has been a triangular cut-out to the edges of the floor in front of the rear wheels which when you see it you’ll think, ‘that doesn’t look that big,’ but on its own, in its rawest form if you just chop that area off your car it’ll take about a second a lap away from your car.

“Then added to that first change three others came. The first was that the little fins and flicks that were on the rear brake duct were reduced in their span just by a few millimetres, but again they were very powerful devices and that change lost a lot of performance from the car.

“At the back of the car underneath in the diffuser area the fences that you can see if you peer up the back end of the car, they were reduced in height so that they can’t go as near to the ground, they can’t create as good of an aerodynamic seal to the groud as they did previously.

“And then finally the front-end of the floor as you approach where the bargeboards are if you looked at the 2020 versions of those floors you see that they look a bit like a venetian blind with lots and lots of slots, an aerodynamic feature there that generates downforce and all of those slots have been removed for 2021.”

James says that those four minor changes made up for a significant cut in overall downforce.

“The combination of these four effects in their rawest form just cut-off and trim back in a way that the rules require brings the performance of the car way back to sort of somewhere near 2019 levels,” he says.

Allison adds that it’s been a challenge for months since those rules were implemented and that it was “quite an interesting ride” in the wind tunnel to try to get as much performance as possible.

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