Mercedes is targeting getting a significant amount of upgrades onto its 2020 Formula 1 car in time for the first race of the season in Austria, despite the shutdown period since March.
The F1 teams had to abide by lockdown restrictions in their own countries but were also bound by the mandatory FIA shutdown period over the past three months, with a total of nine weeks enforced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite that spell of being unable to work, Mercedes technical director James Allison says the way that the car’s development schedule evolves means a number of upgrades could still be ready by Austria.
“We haven’t yet done a single race but actually quite a lot of time has passed since we launched this car, and if you imagine where the launch car was and the car that would have gone to Australia, that was frozen around about Christmas,” Allison said. “So there was the whole of January, the whole of February, March — all making the car quicker in the wind tunnel and also in the design departments.
“So we’ve got quite a lot of ideas about how to make it quicker, and quite a lot of those ideas were already in process through the design office before we were forced to shut down nine weeks ago. So our challenge now is to make sure that that quarter of a year of development can get off the drawing boards and onto the car as swiftly as possible.
“We hope to have a chunk of that for the first race in Austria, and the season that follows we’ll of course take as much of the development as fast as we can get it onto the car in turn.”
With the only collective track running so far taking place in pre-season testing, there are still uncertainties over the pecking order, which Allison admits leaves him desperate to see how competitive his new car is.
“One of the things that is a little hard to anticipate is exactly how all of us — team and drivers — will respond to this big break in the rhythm of our normal professional lives. For myself, I’m itching for the team to get back out on the track and to find out in the crucible of a race event whether the work we did has produced a car that we all can be excited and proud of. I just can’t wait for that.”