Don't be fooled by appearances, says Mercedes' Allison
Mercedes technical director James Allison has warned fans not to be fooled by appearances even if Formula One's 2021 cars look much the same as last year's.
The sport decided at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic last season to postpone sweeping rule changes until 2022 to cut costs.
Allison explained on the Mercedes website on Wednesday that winter development had still been intense with subtle but significant changes to the aerodynamic regulations keeping teams busy.
“If you're looking at this new season of 2021 and you are thinking it is just going to be a carry-over of what we saw in 2020 ... well, don't be fooled by anyone who is telling you that,” he said.
“The rules are very, very different for 2021. The work we've had to do has been very wide-reaching and we hope we have done enough to stay successful.
“As ever at this time of year we are just full of the anxiety and excitement of waiting to find out whether all this investment we have made into the new car will indeed pay off with a challenger that is capable of fighting from the front.”
Mercedes have been dominant in the V6 turbo hybrid era and have won an unprecedented seven successive drivers' and constructors' world championships.
They have yet to announce a new contract with Lewis Hamilton, now a seven-time world champion, whose existing deal ended in December. The Briton has been training as usual in America and is expected to sign soon.
Allison said the aerodynamic tweaks, some of only a few millimetres, had been forced by the risk of car performance becoming too much for the tyres and some aspects of the circuits.
He said the result was performance returning “somewhere near 2019 levels”.
Pirelli's 2021 tyres were another thing to deal with, and the cars were now about six kilos heavier than last year's versions.
Rule changes also meant that Mercedes' novel DAS (dual-axis system) steering has been banned after one season in action.
“It brought us good performance in many tracks last year and so it's with a little bit of sadness that we say goodbye to it,” said Allison.
The season starts in Bahrain on March 28.