Mercedes chief technical officer James Allison says the team does still have some Formula 1 upgrades to come this season despite development work ceasing on the 2021 car.
In a media appearance after last weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix, team principal Toto Wolff responded with “that’s basically what I’m saying, yes” when asked if there would be no upgrades forthcoming this season.
But in the latest episode of the F1 Nation Podcast, Allison explained that there are still new parts working their way through the system for introduction this year despite the research and development work focusing on the 2022 project.
“You’re never confident of anything, I’m afraid it’s the permanent fate of anyone who works in this business to be perpetually worried about what your opponents are doing and focus only on what you are doing,” said Allison when asked if he was confident of making performance gains with the W12.
“But we have reasonable number of things that are going to make our car faster in the coming races and let’s hope they prove sufficient.”
Allison was asked to reconcile this with Wolff’s suggestion that there would be no further upgrades and stressed that while it is correct that the focus had switched in terms of aerodynamic work in the windtunnel, there are still items working their way through the system that were in the research and development phase prior to the changeover that also incorporate what has been learned on track during race weekends.
“I don’t think those two things are at odds are at each other,” said Allison.
“What Toto points out is that next year’s rules are a big and hairy affair and they demand a huge amount of our attention, and so most of the focus of our factory has switched over to the performance discovery for next year.
“But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things still in the food chain from prior to that focus switch and furthermore it isn’t all of the factory, and furthermore we’re only one of two factories there’s also the PU [power unit] factory and there is a little bit more to come from the PU.
“So there’s some more aerodynamic change in the offing, a little bit of PU, we hope, on the delivery side and just a few things that are not quite as tidy as we would wish that we still have an opportunity to put right while this season is still very much alive and hot.”
Allison believes that the return to the Red Bull Ring this weekend will allow Mercedes to answer some questions about its car.
But he added that all teams should benefit from this and it’s not something that is more beneficial to Mercedes than any other team.
“I don’t think good thing for any team specifically, but it’s an interesting and a good thing for all the teams because we don’t usually get to do a reload and repeat,” said Allison.
“You normally leave every weekend with a bunch of unanswered questions which are unanswered because the rhythm of the weekend and the duration of the sessions and the number of tyres you have and the variables that unfold over the course of the weekend always mean you are not capable of getting all the answers to all these questions that you wished.
“This is as good a way as any of going back and re-opening some of those unanswered questions and seeing if you can answer them.
“That doesn’t mean it’s a specific good for Mercedes, that is true for every team up and down the pitlane.
“So everyone will be going off to answer their unanswered questions and I imagine that the net change of knowledge across the teams will not be large but we will be striving to make sure that if we work well hopefully we will step forward relative to others.”