The 1996 World Champion has addressed Mercedes’ challenges during the ground-effects era and suggested that the team may not be utilizing all available strategies, especially in comparison to rivals like Red Bull.
Damon Hill has expressed his concerns about Mercedes’ ongoing struggles with the aerodynamic ground effects technical regulations, calling it “anxiety-inducing.”
From 2014 to 2021, Mercedes dominated by winning 15 out of 16 titles, with Lewis Hamilton claiming six of the eight Drivers’ titles. Nico Rosberg took the 2016 crown before Max Verstappen broke their stronghold in 2021.
In 2022, significant changes were made to the technical regulations, including the reintroduction of ground-effects. As a result, Mercedes lost its dominance due to a major error with the design of its W13 concept, known as the zero sidpeod design.
The team doubled down on the W14, but decided to switch to a more conventional design for the Monaco Grand Prix. Despite this change, the team has not yet won a race this season, despite having won at least one race every year since 2012.
After Mike Elliott, the technical director who was in charge of design, left the team to become the Chief Technical Officer, Hill is questioning whether Mercedes is overlooking an opportunity with the aero rules.
Hill’s worry about Mercedes causing anxiety.
Hill stated on F1 Podcast that he is anxious about the long-standing dominance of Mercedes being attributed to their power unit.
For a long time, they had the most robust power unit and their aerodynamics always had a slight edge over Red Bull’s.
During the end of the previous Formula 1 regulations, the cars maintained a relatively flat-looking rake, except for Red Bull which had a significantly larger one.
Red Bull led the way with their very high rake, and soon everyone started following them. The creature scampering alongside the car appeared to be a rat. The back was extremely tall.
Mercedes continued to hold onto their concept with determination, even when it seemed like they were using a different aero concept on their car under the previous regulations. Then, new regulations were introduced.
“Is the Mercedes aero department missing an opportunity? They have also lost several talented aero personnel to other teams over the years.”