F1: Lewis Hamilton extends Mercedes contract
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Mercedes’ technical director James Allison has opened up about the effects the new F1 budget cap have been having on their preparation for the upcoming season. Teams have had their spending limited to $145m this season and Allison has explained that the cap means they have needed to make adjustments.
With both the team and marquee driver Lewis Hamilton hoping to continue their dominance of the sport, Allison hopes Mercedes will be able to “launch with a car that is fast from the beginning”.
Speaking in a video on Mercedes’ official YouTube channel, he said: “Probably the biggest weapon we could possibly have to attack these new financial regulations in a good way would be to launch with a car that is fast from the beginning, because a car that is fast from the beginning is going to be cheaper to [keep] quick during the whole season.
“So let’s hope that we’ve put enough goodness into the car at the beginning of the year, to allow our plans to unfold in a way that sees us operating at a high level under this new constraint, where we are fighting with exactly the same guns as everybody else.
“This [approach] means figuring out how we can make components on our car to last longer, how to build them more cheaply and how to make sure we maintain the same sort of performance that we did previously, despite the fact that our overall budget has come down.
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“It’s a huge challenge and building the car is only part of it.
“We then have to operate the car, develop the car, we have to do the entire season with all the uncertainties that we face in terms of how often it might crash, or how reliable components are and then need resources spent to fix that.
There are also new aerodynamic regulations that teams have to adhere to and Allison has also explained how Mercedes are adapting to them.
“Much of our focus over the last weeks and months has been trying to understand what the effect of those changes are on the main flow fields around the car and how to try to find back the performance that is lost when you first adopt those new regulations.”
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Mercedes’ engine chief Hywel Thomas has also admitted that the team have been battling “some issues”, saying: “In terms of readiness, we’ve got plenty of engines in build at the moment getting ready for the new season.
“We have already got some of them together and we have also got engines running on the dynos right now, doing their durability runs. We have got some issues with the power units.
“We know we have issues but we have plenty of plans in place to fix all of those issues. I’m sure it will all be ready for the first race.
Thomas also added: “The winter is always a challenging time for us, as we prepare for a new season, and this year there have been a few extra additional things thrown at us.
“It’s been the first winter where we’ve had to react to a change to the regulations, which limits the amount of dyno hours we’re able to run. This means we have to make every single dyno run count and must make sure that we are entirely productive, to learn about the performance and the reliability of the Power Unit during each hour.
“Also, it’s the first winter where we have prepared for only one single upgrade for the whole season. So, we have to get all of our performance into the first PU that goes to the first race, whereas in previous seasons we have been able to split that up into different packages for each PU that gets introduced.
“So, with that challenge, we have to get absolutely everything there for the first race and make sure it’s completely reliable. Also, there are more races this season and the same number of Power Units, which means that each individual Power Unit needs to run across more races.
“We just have to make sure that we are ready for that and focus even more on reliability. We also have the challenge of a pretty short winter, as we didn’t finish racing until the middle of December and now, we’re straight back into it.
“So, if anything, we’ve had more to do and less time to do it in.”
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