Date published: February 14 2020
The car that Mercedes launched on Friday will be the car Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas race in Melbourne with just minor updates between now and then.
Mercedes took the covers off its 2020 challenger, the W11, at the Silverstone circuit on Friday.
But while it has often been noted that the car launched differs to that run in testing, which again is different to the one raced at the season-opening grand prix, Mercedes say this year it will be pretty much the same car.
“We will be more conventional this year,” tech chief James Allison told Autosport.
“We will still have upgrades for Melbourne that will come in the second week of testing, but the entire new car approach of 2019 won’t feature.
“Last year, the regulations were changed quite significantly, and they were decided quite late in the year.
“Under those circumstances, doing a launch car and a week two car gave us the chance to build the maximum amount of learning into our Melbourne car.
“With the regulations being more mature this year, and with the opening stab of the 2020 development already being at the same level as the finish of last year’s car, repeating last year’s approach would not make sense.”
The new W11 features an aggressive sidepod design as well as a narrower nose while the front wing is an evolution on last year’s design. The bargeboards have also been revised.
Explaining the changes, Allison said: “If we had continued merely to add flourishes to the 2019 baseline, we would have found some gains, but in all likelihood diminishing returns would be kicking in by now.
“We wanted to change aspects of the concept of the car – aspects that would be completely impossible to change within a season – to give us a more fertile platform for the new season.
“We tried to make a few well-chosen architectural changes to keep the development slope strong even though the regulations are now a little bit longer in the tooth.
“On top of the conventional fare of winter development we made three investments: one at the front, one in the middle and one at the back of the car.
“At the front we have accepted more structural complexity around the uprights and wheel rims in order to provide a higher performance assembly overall.
“In the middle of the car we have followed the pit lane trend by moving our upper side impact tube to the lower position and banking the aerodynamic gain that comes with this layout.
“At the rear of the car we have gone for an adventurous suspension layout in order to free up aerodynamic development opportunity.
“All three investments were improvements in their own right, but their real effect is to mobilise a raft of secondary aerodynamic gains both during the winter and, we hope, across the season to come.
“We have worked – as we would always – on every square millimetre of the car to try and find improvements in this stable set of regulations.”