Mercedes technical director James Allison says the main contributing factor to the team’s advances in terms of development in the past few years has been its understanding and knowledge of F1’s tyres, a veritable “weapon” for the Silver Arrows outfit according to the British engineer.
Over the years, Pirelli’s tyres, or rather their complex management, have heavily weighed drivers’ results on race day or wreaked havoc on a team’s ability to perform consistently.
From blistering to degradation to an inability to keep tyre temperatures in the optimal operating window (the latter issue particularly impacting Haas), getting on top of Pirelli’s rubber has been a major challenge for engineers.
In the past, Mercedes hasn’t been immune to tyre issues, but the Brackley engineers have progressively acquired a proficiency in tyre knowledge that Allison believes is now second to none in F1.
“The most important thing today is to get the most out of your tyres, regardless of the season,” the Mercedes tech boss said in an interview with Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport.
“We are lucky that we have excellent engineers in our team, in our driving dynamics group. They bring this understanding and knowledge with them.
“The biggest advance that this team has made in the past two or three years has been to develop the car to better deal with the tyres.
“We always had a fast car, but it works better with the tyres today than it used to. Therefore, they no longer see this yo-yo effect from exceptionally good to weak races. We had no real slumps this year.
“The other teams are also working on it, but as of today, I would give our team the greatest chance of getting our car’s tyres into the operating window and staying there for the rest of the weekend. It has become a real weapon for us.
Allison admits that Pirelli’s decision to reduce the tread of its tyres by 0.4mm for 2019 reduced the risk of blistering and degradation, but Mercedes still appeared to have an edge over its rivals in the tyre management department.
“The tyres are not that much different than last year,” he said.
“We used these tyres with a thinner tread in three races in 2018. They don’t blister so quickly, that’s a fact.
“I don’t know what the others have done or not. All I can say is that we are lucky enough to have many competent people on our team.
“It was important for us to understand the tyres, how the forces of the car act on them, so that aerodynamics and mechanics work well together.”