Mercedes hopes the longer-wheelbase car it plans to introduce at the Spanish Grand Prix will help it get a grip on the weight distribution issues that it has encountered so far this season.
The Brackley, UK-based team is set to introduce a major aerodynamic upgrade to its W01 for next month's race at Barcelona, and will also lengthen the wheelbase of the car. Team principal Ross Brawn has revealed that the motivation for making the major wheelbase change has been prompted by the fact the team miscalculated the weight distribution needs for the 2010 tires.
"The problem is not actually the wheelbase per se, it is the weight distribution," Brawn said about the motivation for the change. "We got the weight distribution wrong.
"When we got to test these tires, we realized we didn't have the correct weight distribution and we went to the limit with what we could achieve with this car. It is not the wheelbase as such, it is the weight distribution that is not what we wanted it.
"The tires changed quite a bit...and we didn't have the opportunity to test these tires, and we didn't have as good a guess of what was required as some of the other teams. So we will have a modification to the car at Barcelona which will give us a better range for the weight distribution that we can achieve."
As well as helping with the overall handling of the car, the weight distribution changes may well help iron out some of the understeer tendencies that have left Michael Schumacher struggling on his F1 return. Brawn also said that Mercedes will likely introduce a fully working version of an F-duct in the next few events, having begun experimenting with a "blown" rear-wing in China last weekend.
"McLaren's system, which is driver operated, is quite complicated to get to work properly," said Brawn. "McLaren conceived that car to accommodate the system, and it is not so easy to put it onto [other] cars. "What we had in China was a simple, passive system. It is not driver operated, so it is not as effective as the McLaren system.
"We are still working on a proper system that we will have at Barcelona or Istanbul. It is complicated to get to work properly, but our aerodynamicists are working on it."