The team was forced to carry over the 2020 chassis this year as part of a rule aimed at helping F1 overcome the financial difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
However, limited upgrades were allowed. This was limited to the use of two tokens that were weighted according to how important part of the car was.
Mercedes had a development plan close to his chest, so it was very mysterious during the launch of the W12 car where to use the token.
James Allison, current Chief Technology Officer, said: “There are some car parts that can be replaced without tokens, such as the power unit, cooling system, suspension, and of course all aerodynamics.
“I’ve run out of tokens, but I’m not sure how I’ve used them yet. It will be clear soon.”
However, the team’s winning the Constructors’ Championship revealed that Mercedes never actually used the token officially.
Mike Elliott, technical director of Mercedes, confirms:
“We had an idea of what we wanted to do in front of the car. We had an idea of what we wanted to do, but it didn’t come true in the end.”
Autosport understands that the combination of homologation deadlines, slow rule changes from the FIA, and the impact of new floor regulations has colluded to prevent teams from spending them where they want.
Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12
Photo: Jerry Andre / Motorsport image
As part of the 2021 token spending rules, the team had to make a decision in July 2020 to inform the FIA where they plan to change the authorized components.
So by the July 22 deadline, Mercedes called on the upgraded nose, which he believed would improve the aerodynamics of the car, to use the token.
However, following the failure of the British Grand Prix tires in August, the FIA sent a letter to the team after the race, stating that they would like to further change the aero regulation in 2021 to further reduce downforce.
This included changes to the lower gable area, which would specifically hurt Mercedes, in addition to greater restrictions on floor dimensions.
If you are aware of the impact of the changes and how they hurt low rake cars than high rake models, the most obvious solution is for Mercedes to change the gearbox and overcome the consequences. It was to help raise the height of the rear ride.
However, this was not possible because due to homologation restrictions, the team had to commit their gearbox changes only five days after the June 2020 shutdown ended. So it was too late to follow that route.
Instead, Mercedes was bound by the original plan to use tokens on its nose, which it chose when it was not aware of the full impact of the changes to the 2021 rules.
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing lead battle
Photo: Simon Galloway / Motorsport image
However, the nose plan was eventually changed when the results of the rule changes were revealed in a particularly difficult pre-season test program.
Elliott confirmed that the main concern during early driving was not a particular balance issue with the car, but an overall loss of downforce.
“I don’t think the balance you have is that important to the driver when you have the dominant car we had before,” Elliott added.
“So I think the problems we had at the beginning of the season weren’t very balanced. I think we just lost a lot of aerodynamics overall.
“It’s always impossible to tell if it hit us as much as it hit others, because we don’t know how it affected other cars.
“What we know is like the benefits we had by the time we worked in the winter and appeared on the truck.  The season, certainly the mid-season benefits were gone. “
Fully aware of the work required for recovery and considering the impact of wind tunnel time limits and cost caps, Mercedes is working to overcome the downforce loss caused by the new rules in 2021. We decided it was better to focus on the basic package classification. Rather than pursuing a new nose.
That decision meant that the nose plan was quietly shelved – so Mercedes never set about doing it and using that token.
Despite the difficulties the team faced, Mercedes has recovered to secure the Constructors’ Championship in the final round of the season. Lewis Hamilton missed the Driver’s Crown thanks to the restart of the safety car in the late race in Abu Dhabi.
Why Mercedes didn’t use upgrade tokens on 2021 F1 cars
https://www.autosport.com/f1/news/revealed-why-mercedes-didnt-spend-upgrade-tokens-on-2021-f1-car/6935000/?utm_source=RSS&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=RSS-ALL&utm_term=News&utm_content=uk Why Mercedes didn’t use upgrade tokens on 2021 F1 cars