Performance Director Tom McCullough explains how the team has improved the AMR21 through the first half of 2021.
It is a well-known fact that we started the season on the back foot, as a result of regulatory changes that had affected the aero performance of low-rake cars more adversely than high-rake cars. Our car is a low-rake car.
Mercedes' low-rake car was similarly disadvantaged, but, because it had been the class of the field in 2020, it fell back fewer places than our car did as we had been competing at the front of a very competitive midfield last year.
At the beginning of this year we therefore slipped towards the back of that very competitive midfield, but, as I say, that was the result of the regulatory changes.
Since then, though, I want to acknowledge the tremendous amount of very hard work that has been done by our colleagues in aero, design and manufacturing, who have tirelessly clawed back that performance deficit, inventing and making aero updates that we appraised first in CFD [computational fluid dynamics], then tested in the windtunnel, then, finally, manufactured and fitted to our race car.
It was and is a more or less never-ending process of iterative development, and, as a result, there is almost no externally visible part of our car that has not been improved in some way between Bahrain and Silverstone. Or, to put it another way, if a part of our car is licked by the wind, we have probably updated it at some point over the past four months.
It is working. We know that our car is still not the fastest, but it is now closer in performance to the cars of our principal rivals than it was at the beginning of the season, and that is the result of a carefully managed programme of aero improvement that has necessarily involved trial and error but has also delivered real results.
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It has been a very impressive body of work, and I salute my colleagues for it. However, like almost all the teams, after the summer shutdown we will transfer that effort and resource to the task of making our 2022 car as competitive as possible.
We have been impressed by both Lance and Sebastian so far this year. Lance is a very hard worker. He has done a large number of sessions in our simulator, and his contribution has been very significant.
Our 'new boy', Sebastian, was at first disadvantaged by his initial unfamiliarity with the way our car operates and feels, then by the unreliability that he suffered in the pre-season test in Bahrain.
But he has worked very diligently since then, in our simulator at the factory and at the circuits, to help us analyse our previous races with a view to preparing for our upcoming races in the best way possible.
As a team, we are operating well. We do not get everything right, no team does, but we racked up nine points-scoring results in the 11 races up to and including Silverstone, our home event, which is a very creditable effort.
Also, it is worth noting that Lance was responsible for six of those nine points-scoring results: a very consistent performance for a driver who is still only 22 years old.
Equally, although the highlight of our first 10 races was undoubtedly Sebastian's excellent second place in Azerbaijan, it is worth remembering that, but for an accident whose causes were totally outside his control, Lance was also heading for an extremely strong finish on the tricky streets of Baku that afternoon.
After a well deserved rest, we will go again when we return to the fray at Spa in late August.
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