Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Albert Park, Melbourne, 2022

No “magic fix” for Mercedes’ lack of pace in Australia

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In the round-up: Toto Wolff says there will be no immediate fix for Mercedes poor pace at this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.

In brief

Mercedes Australia upgrades “won’t be magic fix” to car issues

After qualifying one second being behind Ferrari and Red Bull in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said that the team is “in a learning race and the first two weekends have shown we still have plenty to learn.”

He cautioned the team don’t expect any immediate improvements from their W13 in the third round of the season this weekend. “At the moment, our track performance is not meeting our own expectations, but everyone at Brackley and Brixworth is focused on understanding the problems and finding the right solutions,” Wolff continued.

“There won’t be a magic fix for the next race weekend, but we’re pushing to steadily bring gains over the up-coming races, to hopefully move us closer to the front of the pack. Until then, we need to maximise each opportunity and make the most of the package we have.”

Melbourne return like “arriving late for school” – Vettel

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, Albert Park, Melbourne, 2022
Vettel returned to the F1 paddock in Albert Park after recovering from COVID-19
Sebastian Vettel has said that being forced to sit out the Bahrain and Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after testing positive for COVID-19, only returning for the Australian Grand Prix, “feels a bit like arriving late to school, so I’m really keen to get going again.”

Vettel said that at least beginning his season at Albert Park was something he had done before. “Starting my season in Australia is something I’ve done before, of course, and it’s also great that Formula 1 is returning after a difficult couple of years.

“For me, after nearly a month out of the car, it will be important to learn throughout the practice sessions, and I hope we can take some steps forward in what is usually an exciting and unpredictable race.”

Leclerc tops second day of Formula 3 Jerez testing

Arthur Leclerc set the fastest time on day two of F3’s in-season Jerez test, after being at the top of both the morning and afternoon sessions’ times. His best lap in the morning, on a drying track, was a 1’30.628, which he beat to set the fastest time of both days in the afternoon with a 1’29.366. Leclerc

Alexander Smolyar, who is competing in the series as an Authorised Neutral Driver but was absent from the first day of the test, ran in both sessions on day two.

2022 changes “some of the most radical to have happened to Albert Park” – Vasseur

Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur has said that the alterations to Melbourne’s circuit this year are among the biggest the track has ever had.

“We approach the Australian Grand Prix with confidence and a little bit of excitement: the changes made to this track are some of the most radical to have happened to Albert Park and we’re eager to discover how they will affect the racing,” Vasseur assessed.

“Of course, we travel to Australia with the aim to get back to scoring ways: we know we can compete to be the towards the front but we also know how every race is an opportunity for all the teams to make another step forward. The development race will have a huge impact this year and we want to find out if the work we have done since Jeddah has paid dividends when it comes to the track.”

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Comment of the day

As McLaren admits its problems go far beyond brake duct woes, DB-C90 wonders when they might be forced to cut their losses for this year:

I expected that a couple of teams would get their 2022 cars badly wrong, but I must admit I didn’t expect either McLaren or Mercedes to be the ones that made such a mess of things.

They’ll probably both have to do a Haas and shift focus to next year fairly soon because they’re both looking pretty poor for 2022.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Macleod, Josie Maunders, Bob and Rohnjaymiller!

On this day in motorsport

  • 65 years ago today Peter Collins won the non-championship Syracuse Grand Prix for Ferrari after the rapid Vanwalls of Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks hit trouble

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Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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27 comments on “No “magic fix” for Mercedes’ lack of pace in Australia”

  1. How is Cotd relevant?

    Cutting your losses and work on next year? The rules are not changing significantly next year so anything learnt on this years car will carry over into next year. You cannot build a new car without understanding where you went wrong in the last one, otherwise you are probably going to make the same mistakes again. If they cannot fix the issues on this years car, who will say they will be able on next years car. For example, your kid comes home with an F on his test, do you tell them, you need to understand the lesson better, or tell them to grow it away and focus on the next test? The subject is the same, they are struggling with the core concepts and need to understand them before moving on.

    1. Knee-jerk cotd. Mclaren was last in Bahrain but scored in the much less brake demanding Jeddah. McLaren have bad brakes which can easily be fixed. Surely by Imola they must have new brakes and surely Mercedes is going to unlock some power. Frankly right now mclaren looks to be a couple cars behind where they were last year but with room for improvement.
      Australia is a power track so expect another Jeddah like performance for merc.

      1. Nell (@imabouttogoham)
        7th April 2022, 3:09

        it’s more Jeddah than Bahrain for sure. But it does still have traction corners, the 1st and 3rd sector is something we haven’t really seen this season – be good to see who’s got the upper hand in the slow, twisty sections.

  2. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
    7th April 2022, 5:43

    Rahal: ‘If I’m Roger Penske, what I’m doing right now today is calling up the best European tracks and going, ‘Hey, let’s go. If they’re going to come play in our yard, we’ll go play in theirs,”

    It works in a theoretical sense, until you realize that IndyCars are 10+ seconds slower per lap than F1 cars.

    1. @braketurnaccelerate You don’t think they realize that? I think it’s a great idea and I would watch it.

    2. I would also think that before Indycar can stomach the cost of moving over the pond for a few races it first has to substantially grow their fanbase to make it work for them. There are quite a few tracks in Europe that Indycar could use that are not a direct comparison to current F1 cars, but they would need some expectation of decent crowd attendance numbers as well as the TV deals to earn the money to pay for it.

      1. @bascb But I see the two as going hand in hand. I’m not sure that they would consider this only if they could break even (or better) based directly on costs to go there vs revenues from going there, for surely they would consider a portion of the costs as them marketing Indycar to the world and thus as a result hopefully ‘substantially grow their fanbase.’

        1. Yes, off course it would be a combination of cost, of direct added revenue and of PR value/visibility @robbie. On the other hand, currently I think that sadly Indycar is quite far from being able to fill 2-4 tracks with a crowd that is worth it for the venues, making it really hard (since they would have to pay not just the travel, the teams but also pay for the race tracks).

          1. @bascb Yeah I suppose it is possible they’d struggle to fill seats but I have no idea what to base that on so perhaps they could start with a study on that…on the actual costs vs revenues and marketing impact. Certainly the venues would matter in terms of costs and interest and I’m not sure what Rahal has in mind there, as in, actually going to venues where F1 races? Or where?

          2. My guess would be they would first try to sign up tracks that might have had F1 in the past @robbie, not sure the tracks that really have F1 would be open to doing Indycar in general.

            Yes, they would certainly have to see how viable the idea is etc.

          3. @bascb currently, their attitude is that IndyCar should predominantly stick to the USA – they might, at most, consider one or two international races, but they have said it’s a very low priority and they’re not actively developing any sort of international strategy for the series.

            That inward focus on the US market also means that, if they do try an international race, those races wouldn’t be allowed to interfere with the domestic calendar – i.e. that any international races would effectively be isolated events at the start of the calendar – which means that any international race would have to take place in either January or February.

            By imposing those limits, they’ve already ruled out any thought of racing in Europe or Japan due to the climatic conditions. Although Australia might be viable, with the suggestion of returning to the Surfers Paradise street circuit, it seems that they would struggle with the logistics of that event.

            In general, logistics has been cited as a major stumbling block for international expansion – the series is in a situation where, even if it wanted to, it lacks the resources to be able to race outside of the USA, and it’s unwilling or unable to put the funding in place to fix that.

            Mexico City is one of the few venues they’ve indicated they might be interested in, mainly because it’s close enough to the USA that the logistics would be easier – but, even then, they’re not really that keen on investing in that prospect.

    3. Who cares that Indycar is slower? They race so much better, and are more reliant on the drivers and their technique. Any driver can win based on their performance on the day, not of the inherent performance difference of their machinery.

      I too would totally watch a World Championship with Indycars.
      Actually, I’d prefer it, since F1 is a mere shadow of its former self.

    4. Being slower then F1 cars is irrelevant as Indycar has great racing. I’d love to see them racing on European circuits (Brands Hatch Indy circuit would be fun).

      1. Tickets for £50 and it’ll be packed.

  3. I don’t think there are any Indycar drivers who wouldn’t want to race internationally, its really about the economics.

    Indycar is a medium size fish in its selfrestricted pond right now, happily swimming along with historic equipment (look it up, its hilarious and …sad) and the Blue Whale dips its tail in the pond and nabs all the big names with very little effort.
    Indycar is left with Uncle Bobs Bass Bonanza Lures and Bait Shop on one car in one race and Sizzling Succotash Food Truck on the same car in the next race. Sure, it makes the car run that day but doesn’t grow the sport as a whole.

    And Penske Co. seemingly is satisfied with status quo, they have come out and said it over and over the past few years

    1. The Dolphins
      7th April 2022, 14:51

      Penske is 85, things will change in the near future and outsiders smell the opportunity: McLaren has entered, Ferrari is still rumored to be interested. The cost cap in F1 may prove to be the start of IndyCar’s renaissance; big teams still have the money to spend on racing and a second racing series gives them leverage in negotiations with F1 in future Concorde agreements.

  4. I’ve been watching the indy500 for 8 years and this is my 3rd full season watching indycar, I would love to see an international series where they would have 2/3 races in Europe similar to what they do with the NFL. If ticket prices are half of what formula 1 tickets are people will attend the races.

  5. Admittedly, I don’t have high hope for Mercedes anymore despite how early into the season we’re considering the budget cap & wind tunnel time allocation.

    Concerning COTD, Possible, but not soon, as technical rules remain stable for next season, meaning anything done & learned this season is effectively a carryover.

    1. @jerejj They are bringing a big update to Australia so i think they will solve their bouncing problem. Will that bring instant results ofcourse not when the problem is fixed they have to work on the right setup (that will be 1-2 races) So when we return to Spain Mercedes will be racing for the win again, IF the upgrades work…

      1. @macleod I think it is as they are saying and that there is no magic fix for this weekend, but from what I understand it is when they get back to Europe that they will start with, from what I read, a new floor, for one reason because their chassis has been flexing. After that it will be wing changes and side pod changes, as I say at least from what I have read.

        So I think your timeline is a bit too enthusiastic based on what Mercedes and most pundits seem to be saying. I think many would be shocked if by Spain they will be racing for the win again, but of course you do acknowledge IF the upgrades work.

  6. The problem is that Wolff has zero credibility, so whatever he says has no meaning. Dieter made a good analysis on Racingnews365 which concludes it might be not a fast recovery for them. Lets see. In the meanwhile they got incredibly lucky the first race so that should easy their pain. It would be nice if George can battle upfront as well, not so keen on seeing Hamilton there again. It is time for some new faces, but hey that’s just me.

  7. Can’t say I agree with the CotD. Mercedes and McLaren may have had struggles but they aren’t fundamentally broken cars. Mercedes, despite it’s current issues, is still comfortably 3rd fastest while the McLaren is capable of scoring points.
    If any teams are going to be disappointed it’d be Williams and Aston Martin, but they’re still in the pack which is much closer together this year (while there has been safety cars which skewers the result slightly, there’s not been many cars lapped this year so far)

  8. The Dolphins
    7th April 2022, 14:41

    Re: Rahal’s comments — there certainly are enough tracks in Europe especially when you consider that IndyCar can race on Grade Two (and above) circuits. I would love to see some “historic” F1 tracks host IndyCar: Brands Hatch, Donnington Park, Estoril, Magny-Cours. IndyCar can even beat F1 to the punch in South Africa if they want to add an extra leg to their journey and race Kyalami. Not to mention the many possibilities to race on street circuits in/around city centers to bring the show to the people. They can run a “compressed” 2-day schedule and make the qualifying and race work for both US and European time zones. The best part is the ticket price would not be anywhere to that of a Formula 1 event, that alone would be enough to draw in even curious fans.

    1. Yeah, good comment.

    2. Good points. I would love to see them try it. There a quite a few European racers participating that can draw people in

  9. I may have a fix for porpoising.

    In my opinion, porpoising is being caused by the vortices created by the new aerodynamic configuration of the cars.

    What used to be two vortices shed from each side of the cars along longitudinal axes has been replaced by two horizontal/transversal vortices. One originating from the rear wing and the other from the floors. Their axes are perpendicular to the cars motion and as they alternate, they provoke a rocking vibration translated as porpoising.

    Maybe moving the rear wing forward would fix the problem or move the alternance to a much higher speed registry.

  10. I do not agree with the cotd. We are not even 9% through this season yet, and all the teams are still finding their feet. Luckily for us fans, teams like McLaren and Mercedes won’t concede defeat so easily.

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