Mercedes finally found a ray of hope in Barcelona after a horrific start to the 2022 championship. With new regulations in place, Mercedes struggled to get their W13 under control. The Silver Arrows grappled with extreme porpoising early in the season, which forced the racing team to compromise a great deal of performance to make the car driveable. However, after five disappointing races in the season, Mercedes did find a breakthrough during the sixth race in Barcelona. And this is by far their best performance this season. Mercedes had been compromised as they struggled to find a way to get over the porpoising. However, the complicated issue turned out to be a big problem for Mercedes as they could not find a solution.
Even in Miami, the German racing team appeared good on Friday. But some subtle changes due to the weather and track condition led to Mercedes struggling again on Saturday and Sunday. They could not use a traditional development approach to counter the issue as porpoising could not be replicated in the wind tunnel or on a simulator. Thus, Mercedes had to find a way to counter the issue between the tunnel and CFD. Eventually, the Silver Arrows were finally able to replicate their efforts in useful parts, which enabled the team to perform so much better in Spain. Mercedes’ F1 strategy director recently shared a perspective on their progress and how they plan on improving things from here.
Mercedes Strategy Director Happy With Their Progress
James Vowels said the car had behaved well in only one of the six races. Spain was the first time when the W13 appeared to be a proper racing car for once. The strategy shared that the car responded well to the tuning, settings tweaks, and the response was more predictable than in the first five races.
Moreover, Vowels stated that Mercedes still have to understand and learn. They will have to temper their expectations as Barcelona has always been successful for the team over the year. But James acknowledged that Mercedes have definitely made a step forward in understanding and developing the car as per the track’s needs. He feels that the car is in touching distance from the front and can help Mercedes fight for the title this year.
Mercedes’ progress was hindered by the porpoising, which restricted them from bringing in development to increase their performance. The Silver Arrows might have taken some time to get over the porpoising with limited resources available. But the parts they brought to Spain certainly reduced the issue by a big margin. A new wing endplate was introduced that was gently curved inward to improve the rear flow of the car. Also, Mercedes fitted a new lower deflector endplate at the rear end to increase the diffuser’s performance. The upgrades helped Russell finish third while Hamilton made a dream comeback from the back of the field to finish fifth.
They have made a lot of headway over the weekend. Mercedes are still far off from the front runners Ferrari and Red Bull in terms of pace. However, they will look to take the driver’s feedback and make more subtle improvements to put the W13 in the front of the field during the upcoming race in Spain.