Why Mercedes "log and document" a dirty car - and it's not what you think
Mercedes motorsport strategy director James Vowles has revealed the lengths the team goes to understand all aspects of a car in the wake of a wet race.
This was particularly evident following the recent Turkish Grand Prix ahead of which rain fell. The wet conditions at the start gave way to a track that failed to dry due to the cool temperatures.
It resulted in cars crossing the finishing line streaked with dirt, seemingly lending itself to a potential study in aerodynamics.
But Vowles claims the cars will have been reviewed for different reasons, in particular, the W11 of Valtteri Bottas who endured a wretched race in which he spun six times and was lapped by race-winning team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
"After the race, especially a wet race, you can see the car is covered in debris, dirt, etcetera," said Vowles.
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"We do go around the car and take photos of all elements of it, and a video around the car as well, just to make sure we log and document it.
"But this isn’t to understand aerodynamically how the car has been performing, it’s to understand what damage we have and the state of the car at the end of a grand prix.
"Clearly, in the case of Valtteri, it was an essential piece of data that allowed us to understand how his car was during the race.
"He sustained damage after an accident on the opening laps with a Renault [Esteban Ocon] and he also picked up a bit of that debris and it ended up in the bargeboard.
"But at the end of the race, we are able to document that and have a review of it so we can in the future go back to it and our aerodynamicists can have a look and correlate the losses we were seeing relative to the damage that was visible on the car.”
Post-race, Hamilton's car ended up covered with confetti as part of the celebrations for the 35-year-old winning a seventh F1 title.
Asked as to how long it will have taken someone to clear it all away given it was stuck to the car, and drifted into the cockpit and other areas, Vowles replied: "It’s a great question.
"One of the things I like about other series, for example, the Le Mans 24 Hours, is you keep the car in exactly the same state as it finished the 24-Hour race as a memento.
"Now, for me seeing the car covered in the confetti and the celebrations is just really the icon that really illustrates the thousands of hours of work that everyone has put in for this championship and the hard work being paid off.
"It’s iconic and I wish we could keep it in that state. As it turns out, that race car has to do Bahrain twice and Abu Dhabi, so I think there is still someone picking bits out as we speak.”
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