Mercedes crushed all its opponents during the eight-year winning stint in Formula One titles. Over 160 races from 2014 to 2021, Mercedes has always been a step ahead of its competitors. A new era in the world of Formula One brought in new aerodynamic regulations and rules. The Mercedes built their latest car, the W13, to win another championship title. However, it has been a rough start for the Silver Arrows and seven-time world champ Lewis Hamilton. The disappointing performances from Mercedes as compared to Ferrari and Red Bull this year have shocked everyone, as the Silver Arrows’ dominance is missing in 2022.
After two exciting races in Bahrain and Jeddah, Mercedes has not been able to fix the issues with the W13. Moreover, Lewis Hamilton had a disappointing run in Jeddah, where he was eliminated during Q1 for the first time since 2017. The last time Hamilton was eliminated on pure pace was in 2009 at the British Grand Prix. He finished at the tenth spot in Saudi Arabia after a slight delay due to a closed pit lane. Mercedes are way behind the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull this season. Ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, Sky Sports F1’s Anthony Davidson provides a deep insight into Mercedes’s issues this year.
What Is The Problem With Mercedes’ New W13?
Mercedes successfully tested their latest W13 for the first time in Barcelona. However, the racing team faced several challenges during the second testing in Bahrain due to the sleek design of the W13, built as per F1’s latest norms. Every team had troubles with porpoising of their car during the test runs.
While some teams like Red Bull and Ferrari found an easy fix, Mercedes is still struggling with the porpoising issue, which has limited their speeds. Mercedes has not been able to control its W13 from bouncing violently on its suspension at high speeds. Anthony, who is also a simulator driver for Mercedes, said, “I could see on track already in Bahrain that it didn’t quite look like the car that I knew in the simulator.”
Porpoising The Real Concern For Mercedes:
Mercedes were completely caught off-guard and believed that porpoising was the root cause of 99 percent of their problems. The Silver Arrows do not know how fast the W13 can go due to the porpoising. They cannot test their cars at top speeds due to the danger of the car bouncing away. The issue has resulted in Mercedes falling way behind Ferrari and Red Bull.
However, Mercedes are mindful of not compromising the downforce of W13 in order to fix the issue quickly. Other racing teams chose to cut down the floor sections of their cars to avoid porpoising. However, it affects the car’s downforce, which is quite important at great speeds. Hence, Mercedes are looking for an alternate way to fix the issue without compromising the car’s abilities and performance.
Davidson pointed out that Mercedes is not being able to run the car’s ride height the way they want to. The former British racer said that while Red Bull’s car experienced ground sparks from underneath, Ferrari and Mercedes’s cars have bounced quite a bit. Anthony told that Mercedes would be looking to get where Red Bull is right now. However, the porpoising issue is gravely affecting the car’s comfort and speed.
Davidson also pointed out that Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have been insisting on adding more downforce and power. The duo has also been consistent that the W13 has a lot of potential. He said that Mercedes knows the car can be quicker, but they can’t run it where they want to due to the risk of the car bouncing off.
Can Mercedes Find A Quick Fix Before Australian Grand Prix Starts?
Mercedes’ trackside engineering head, Andrew Shovlin, is working day and night to find a solution to their porpoising issue. The Silver Arrows have planned a phased upgrade over the last few rounds. They are planning on bringing their first update during the upcoming weekend’s race in Melbourne City. Davidson feels that the W13 is not as good as Ferrari or Red Bull‘s cars yet. Anthony thinks that Mercedes are still hanging in the grey area and certainly not in a position to challenge the front runners as of now. However, the F1 expert believes that Mercedes will make gains, and the phased updates might take some time to sort out the porpoising and speed issue.
Recently, Mercedes’ George Russell also opened up about the issue and pointed out that the only time a team gets to test their vehicles is during Friday’s two-hour practice session before Sunday’s race. Hence, he thinks that it will take his team some time to fix the issue. The top-tier British driver believes that Mercedes can make a comeback in the title race if they maximize their points and limit any further damages.
It will be interesting to see if the W13 and Mercedes perform better during the Australian Grand Prix on April 10th. Moreover, F1 enthusiasts would be hoping to see Lewis Hamilton in better form during Friday’s practice in Melbourne.