Mercedes Formula 1 driver Valtteri Bottas revealed that Mercedes are focusing on reducing drag and improving their straight-line speed ahead of next season as the Silver Arrows look to continue their dominance of the sport. They won 15 of the 21 races in 2019 and will enter the new campaign as the favourites yet again unless Ferrari and Red Bull Racing build cars that can consistently challenge them throughout the season.
The Brackley-based team won their sixth consecutive Drivers' and Constructors' title in 2019 and overall had the most dominant car on the grid. But the one area they lagged was in straight-line speed compared to Ferrari, who were far superior, which made a telling difference at tracks that were power sensitive like Monza, Spa-Francorchamps and Montreal.
Bottas hailed Mercedes' ability to solve their 2018 problems, which saw them struggle in slow corners and is hoping they can have similar results as they look to reduce drag and boost the Mercedes power unit ahead of next season.
"I think mechanically and aerodynamically, in terms of cornering performance and overall grip, that's been a big strength for us," Bottas said, as quoted on GPToday.net. "We've also been able to unlock many issues we've had before like slow speed cornering. For example, a track like Monaco has been tricky previously, but now we've been able to be competitive there as well."
"In terms of the chassis side, we've made really solid progress," he added. "Of course, it can always be better, but I think there are still a lot of things we can do better efficiently, possibly with the aero."
"With the power unit, we are also pushing flat out. We know that the biggest weakness we have right now compared to some other teams is the straight-line performance. For that, there's only two things. The drag and the power. So, for sure they're the kind of things we're focusing on for next year."
Mercedes' philosophy for 2020, however, is exactly opposite when compared to their rivals Ferrari, who went into the winter looking to add drag and downforce to their car after struggling at tracks that required high downforce. The only anomaly was the Singapore GP where they went on to take an unexpected 1-2 in 2019.
Mattia Binotto, the team principal of the Italian outfit confirmed that their focus will be to reduce focus on straight-line speed and focus on making their cars stronger in other areas they struggled in 2019. Ferrari will be the first team to release their car on Feb. 11 and it will be interesting to see the two philosophies of the potential title contenders.