The score is still flattering for Mercedes. With 77 points from the first four race weekends, George Russell (49) and Lewis Hamilton (28) are third in the constructors’ standings. But Imola was the F1 W13 E Performance’s most sobering appearance yet, and so it’s clear that the 2022 Formula 1 season won’t be salvageable without updates.
The first major modifications are now imminent: “Perhaps we can already put some parts on the car in Miami, which will hopefully give us information about whether we are moving in the right direction,” says Andrew Shovlin, head of the Mercedes task force the racetrack.
Because that is the first decision that Mercedes now has to make: Is it possible to get a winning performance out of the radical concept of the W13, or has the design simply gotten lost, so that it would be wiser to consider the project a failure, ticking off 2022 and to develop a completely new design early for 2023?
Mercedes does not expect an immediate increase
Shovlin doesn’t believe that Mercedes can win in Miami: “We don’t assume that we will solve our problems overnight,” he says. “But if we can get an idea of whether we’re going in the right direction, if we can get to the bottom of what’s going on, then we’d be very happy.”
Team boss Toto Wolff spoke in Imola that the Mercedes generates enough contact pressure to be competitive – possibly even too much because too much downforce promotes “porpoising”. Therefore, he believes that once you find the key to unlocking the potential, the car will be fully competitive.
It sounds “like a cliché,” says Shovlin, “but we can’t drive our car the way it’s designed to be driven. We have to set a higher ground level, and that means less performance. It’s probably the same for all teams. Many have this problem and we know that raising the floor level is one way to alleviate the problem.”
Looking for an aerodynamic answer
“A big part of what we’re doing at Brackley right now is understanding this phenomenon and seeing if we can control it; if it’s possible to get that out of the car. When Toto says we need to find the key, it does Does he mean, ‘Is there an aerodynamic solution that will make this problem go away?'”
“Realistically, that’s going to be something that we’re going to do in stages. I don’t think there’s going to be that one wow moment that will make it all go away,” Shovlin fears. “But we’re seeing encouraging signs, and as I said, we’re bringing the first parts to it. Starting in Miami, where hopefully we’ll start to see progress.”
The fifth of 23 planned Grands Prix of the 2022 Formula 1 season will take place in Miami (Florida) on May 8th. That could be an advantage for Mercedes, but it could also be a disadvantage. By the way, the team has not yet revealed exactly which updates are planned.
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