Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Miami International Autodrome, 2022

Mercedes “haven’t improved in these five races” – Hamilton

2022 Miami Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says he hasn’t seen any improvement from his Mercedes over the first five races of the 2022 F1 season.

But team principal Toto Wolff believes they have now glimpsed a “sweet spot” in the car’s performance which they hope to exploit in coming races.

Hamilton finished sixth in Miami behind team mate George Russell. He lost 21 seconds to the leaders over the 13-lap green-flag run to the finish following a late Safety Car restart.

Speaking after the race, Hamilton said he’d seen no signs of a step forward by the team.

“Unfortunately not,” said Hamilton. “We’re the same speed as we were in the first race. So we’ve just got to keep trying.

“We haven’t improved, unfortunately, in these five races. I’m hopeful that at some stage we will. But we’ve just got to keep trying, keep working hard.”

The team has been plagued by problems with porpoising since the season began. Hamilton said that felt better during Sunday’s race, but pointed out it is highly sensitive to variations in track layout, surface and conditions.

“It wasn’t as bad today,” he said. “From race to race, track to track, surface to surface, how high we put the car – we can put the car higher and reduce it – so today wasn’t actually really bad, just not fast.”

Mercedes began the weekend more promisingly. Russell ended Friday’s disrupted practice sessions on top of the times sheets. However he said his car felt completely different by Saturday.

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Wolff said the team’s experience in Miami has “definitely given us answers” about the car.

“On the positive side, the car is quick when it’s in the sweet spot,” he said. “But understanding where the sweet spot is is something that we are going to become a step closer to after analysing all the data this weekend.”

Race start, Miami International Autodrome, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Miami Grand Prix in pictures
He is unsure how soon that progress may translate into gains on-track. “Whether it’s Barcelona or not, I don’t know.”

Mercedes were “flying in the fog a little bit” with their car at the beginning of the season, he added. “It’s clear that there’s potential in the car and she’s fast but we just don’t understand how to unlock the potential.

“It’s probably a car that is super-difficult to drive and on the edge, dipping in and out of the performance window. More out than in. And dissecting the data with a scalpel is just a painful process because it takes very long.”

The team’s attempts to make progress have been complicated by differences between what their drivers report about the car and what their data shows.

“Certainly they have their hands full with a car that is just not at all comfortable to drive, or nice to drive or predictable to drive,” said Wolff. “But the data doesn’t show these big swings.

“We haven’t had this situation before in any of the years that it just didn’t correlate what we see on the screens with what the driver feels. And that’s making it even more difficult.”

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36 comments on “Mercedes “haven’t improved in these five races” – Hamilton”

  1. Unfortunately, true & I doubt their outright pace will improve soon.

  2. Hmm contradictory statements

    1. It’s lewis so there is a spot of hope (sweet point) but he was expecting results sooner then he thought.

  3. Relatively to the rest of the field the car is not that bad. George, having more experience with cars that are not so easy to drive, can get good performance out of it. I expect Lewis will do the same soon given his stature.

    1. Yes, overall 3rd best car on the grid but the gap between the first 2 seems large. Regarding George, I think he is not doing better in terns of extracting the maximum, or at least its too early to say. Looking at their lap times I would say overall they are in the same boat

      1. Yes, that’s true, they seem to be closer to alfa atm than to ferrari or red bull, it’s not been the only race where mercedes wasn’t ouright 3rd best.

      2. outright*

  4. Mr Scallywag
    11th May 2022, 7:47

    Merc talk a lot about unlocking potential. Isn’t this the case for most teams? Why would their optimism be any more justified? Other than, you know, we’re Merc, we don’t do wrong.

    1. I’m not that knowledgeable on the technical side of F1 but I think they are referring to making the “sidepod-less” concept work, which is quite an extreme concept compared to what most of the other teams are trying to do. So they are probably thinking/hoping that if they fix their current issues, then their extreme concept will produce extreme gains once it works properly.

  5. I get the feeling Ham is not going to budge over removing his bling forcing the FIA to ban him.

    In turn he can get what he wants – a way out of F1. He can then cry oppression making him out to be the good guy and that he was standing up for his principles.

    Let’s be honest, if he was currently fighting for a championship, his jewelry would have been out weeks ago!

    1. Man this goes on and on…

  6. I think the car has improved – but not by enough. More importantly, by the various reports and listening to interviews over the Miami weekend, I think they have a much better understanding of why its behaving the way its behaving – hopefully meaning they have a plan to fix it.

    I still don’t like the 2022 cars – they look so ponderous on track, they just seem difficult to race with.

    1. ” […] they just seem difficult to race with.”

      How on Earth would that be a bad thing?!? The 1970’s or 1980’s cars were difficult to race with and that gave the best racing ever. Come on man, those F1 drivers are supposed to know how to handle a car…

      1. Difficult to drive and difficult to race are two different things. Wrestling a light and nimble car is one thing, trying to engage in a dogfight in a jumbo jet is another.

  7. They’ve easily got the third best car, yet the rhetoric from Mercedes is as if they’re driving a 2020 Williams.
    The constant underdog/victim stance from this team is really tiresome, at least when RB/Ferrari are behind (i.e., every year from 2014-2021) they are usually pugnacious and optimistic.

    1. I’m a ferrari fanboy, and even I’m first to admit how much we’ve been crying victim for the last 10 years, let alone Red Bull who pre last season was the biggest complainer of them all. It’s what the top teams do lad, stop making out as if it’s just the 1. Plenty of innovations by each team have been outed rightly or wrongly due to complaining teams, and I’d argue Mercedes have probably been slapped the hardest the past couple of seasons.

  8. Jelle van der Meer (@)
    11th May 2022, 11:18

    “Mercedes “haven’t improved in these five races” – Hamilton”

    Well Hamilton hasn’t improved much either, Lewis is always quick to blame and criticize the team but has very little self reflection and own responsibility. We saw it multiple times in 2021 and now again in 2022 – guess Lewis is only a team player if things go well, not so much when things go bad or are tough.

    1. In contrast to schumacher, for example.

    2. You must be watching a different Hamilton to that of others then?

      His tireless thanking of the team and crowd has produced more critical commentary on these hallowed pages than anything else.

      Fact is it’s irrelevant what he says or does as a set number of quite recent ‘F1’ fans are rushing hot fingered to their keypads to do anything they can to criticise and drag and diminish his extraordinary achievements down to their level, or more likely the level of their hero.

      Looking at your name I see you belong in that group or perhaps it’s well known associated band of ‘I used to a fan but’ or even the loosely affiliated group ‘anyone can win in that car’?

      Funny thing – only he has and he always thanks them for it even when it’s a complete dog to drive.

  9. @Mayrton its not about driver skill.its more about car set up. Its hogwash to suggest lewis doesn’t know how to drive a car. A difficult car. Its all to do with the set up. The points difference between the drivers is not a true reflection of the drivers. Its all about car set up which the team is tinkering with.

    1. Not sure whether I agree here. In general the top skilled drivers are quicker in getting whatever is the maximum out of a car. This includes the set up and subsequent squeezing it out on track. Lewis had a race winning car at his debut, then just a few years a Mercedes that was improving year on year but not quite there yet, followed by a long streak of having the best car out there. I think this is just all new to him and he hasnt exactly gotten any practice (like the rest of the field) driving a difficult car. Now we can determine whether he is a Vettel (only winning when he has the best car and preferably no wheel to wheel action) or a true champion. Interesting season for Lewis.

      1. Yes, interesting indeed, I think he’s not like vettel, and he’s been avoiding mistakes at least, but hasn’t always extracted the most from the car, which is admittedly difficult to drive, so far.

      2. Nice revisionist story there @mayton

        First point he has had a winning car because he deserves one. He has had a winning car even when his team mates in exactly the same car are not winning which tends to suggest that sometimes, it’s not just the car.

        I suggest you take a good look at the 09 series – all of it and then test your statement above. He spent half the year at the back, then dragged it kicking and screaming to the front. His team mate did not. Or even the 012 year where his WC teammate, in his never ending quest to score more points over the mythical three year championship, spent half the season at the back while his team mate lapped him. Hardly an obvious race winner there.

        But I guess it’s much easier to state that despite there being another exactly the same car on the grid (usually driven by another world champion) in all the years he has raced, it’s all been easy for him because his car has always been the best, that he has limited skill in setting up or driving lower abled cars (I mean really?) and that he is a Vettel completely devoid of wheel to wheel ability.

        An absolutely crass and plain ridiculous assertion given his immense talent since he was in karting has always been headlined by his wheel to wheel racing!

        Next you will be telling us he can’t race in the wet…

        Despite having won the most wet races of any driver…

        1. First paragraph: I agree he (like some others) deserves a race winning car. He got one because of his skills and a bit of a gamble he took. Regarding his team mates it proves he is better than Bottas and also slightly better than Rosberg. And his team mates came 2nd a very large number of times so that says mostly a lot about the car.

          Second paragraph: yes, like I said he had, in the beginning at Mercedes, a not ideal car, but that was a long time ago and looking at the season nothing really memorable came out of it.

          Third paragraph: bar Alonso his team mates have not exactly been of a level that you can say anything on where Lewis stands amongst the greats, other than that he can beat those team mates. He also used a lot of his team mates car set ups throughout the weekends. And the car was very dominant. Very. The number of 1-2 finishes, the team mates ending up 2nd in the overall ranking. The sign are all there. With regard to the Vettel comparison that is not what I said. We will find out now whether he is a Vettel. I didnt state he is.

          On his immense talent: that’s what I am questioning. He is very good, but an immense talent? He will need to show it now he hasnt got the best car anymore. So far, he hasnt. Lets see, the season is long. Dont get me wrong, he is one of the better ones out there, also taking into account all drivers of the past. I am just not so sure 7 titles are a true reflection of his level. 3, maybe 4 but looking at Alonso he might also have gotton 2 if he hadnt had that Mercedes. He is blessed for sure. But people get carried away and blow things way out of proportion if you really attribute all 7 titles to his talent.

          He is very good in the wet indeed.

  10. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    11th May 2022, 12:35

    In Russell’s hands it’s been in the top five regularly, so calling it a ‘bad car’ and implying it’s just undriveable is weird. I’m sure Williams or Aston Martin would currently love a few races with this ‘undrivable’ machine? It’s not going to be challenging for a championship that’s clear but it’s not terrible – comfortably third fastest with no threat behind. Also to be honest the races I think have been better at the front without them being a constant fixture.

    1. @rocketpanda I think that at times the car is undriveable, and of course it’s level of ‘badness’ is relative. Sure Haas would love to have this third place ‘undriveable’ car, but coming off 8 Constructor titles in a row, from Mercedes perspective it might as well be a Haas for all they can do with it in terms of fighting where they have become accustomed, let alone running away from the field in 1-2 formation during several of those 8 seasons.

  11. I’m wondering whether their car is actually being run as high as the front runners. I’m getting the sense that maybe the problem is that their aero concept requires a lower ride height to get downforce than others. So they are stuck with a choice of bouncing or no grip. Everybody is bouncing a little or a lot, but for them it’s a particular crisis in setting up the car.

    I’ve only just earned my MS in engineering, via internet commenting, but If you look at their car, they are uniquely going for a low drag side pod concept that does not seem to work hard delivering airflow to the beam wing or diffuser. Cf. RBR and SF. This would seem to emphasize getting the underbody to work harder, by keeping it lower.

    They should bring the Barcelona test bodywork back for a Friday session. What do they have to lose? Hamilton at least feels the weeks of cfd and handwringing on this car have yielded nothing. Russell is being more diplomatic as you would expect of the new man but he’s not happy either.

    1. My understanding is that the problem comes from the tiny sidepods, but only indirectly.
      Tiny sidepods mean much more exposed floor, meaning it is very difficult to get the floor stiff enough to resist the flexing that other teams have already solved.
      It’s this flexing that causes excessive porpoising.
      They seemed to have made progress on this in Miami – so I guess we’ll see in upcoming rounds.

      If they can solve the porpoising and retain the tiny sidepods… they may be in great shape.

      1. @sham I’m still not convinced that ‘all’ Mercedes’ has to do is solve the porpoising and just like that they’ll have speed and performance again. Ferrari porpoises quite a bit in places too, but that doesn’t seem to affect their lap times. RBR have barely had any issues with porpoising from the getgo and they’re neck and neck with Ferrari.

        Personally I think it is rhetoric for TW to claim the speed is in this car and they just haven’t found it yet, other than within the tiniest of windows. I would think if it was within the car they’d have a lot more clues by now having tried everything (one would think) that is within adjusting within this car. I think it is as LH has said and they’ve made little progress and I think it is because this car is flawed relative to RBR and Ferrari and needs a front to back rethink.

        1. I’m also not convinced that solving the porpoising is going to solve everything at a stroke, but it will give them a stable aerodynamic platform with which to progress – previously, the porpoising has resulted in massively unstable airflow which (unlike Ferrari and Red Bull) was actually persisting for a short time after braking.

          I’m not an aerodynamicist, but I know that the key to it is consistency – having the airflow constantly detaching and reattaching must be an engineer’s worst nightmare.

          1. @sham Yeah fair comment I don’t disagree but for sure it seems lesser teams are having less porpoising than Mercedes are, ie. not much of a nightmare for some teams’ engineers. You can have a lesser talent pool of engineers and have avoided porpoising, and you can have porpoising with upper level engineers without it being the nightmare that it appears on video replay, at least to lap times. Methinks Mercedes need to change enough things that they will have trouble, given the budget caps, implementing the number of changes needed and have them all work together as they must at the same time. I suspect that before they sort this car out they will start to lean towards a back-to-the-drawing-board rethink with next year in mind. Although, there’s so much of this season to go they may as well persist with some changes for now to at least advance their understanding of what it takes today to make a competitive car ala what RBR and Ferrari have done. I’ve no doubt they’ve been pouring over their video footage of their competitors for weeks now.

    2. A key difference between Red Bull and Mercedes is the manner in which they create the underbody venturis. This is clearly illustrated in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l29SZc19y4I

      By making their underbody tunnels almost constant height and throttling the air stream by increasing the width of the centre section of the floor, Red Bull have minimised the change in venturi neck area with suspension movement/ride height. The Mercedes has wide and shallow venturi, meaning any change in ride height has a correspondingly larger affect on venturi neck area and hence ultimate depression and downforce. As the car speed increases, the venturi closes, proportionally much more than the RB, pressure under the car will drop even more, sucking it to the road where the flow stalls and the car pops up again following loss of downforce.

      As a result of their design the Red Bull remains clear of the venturi choking point because the venturi area is little changed and hence has consistent downforce from underbody low pressure. I suspect CFD results pointed Mercedes in the direction which they have gone, but it wasn’t capable of predicting the dynamic situation of a real track with bumps and ripples which may well trigger the process. The RB will be unaffected by comparison.

      The creator of the video linked only gets to conclude this at the end. In reality it’s fairly basic engineering that has led RB to their solution, probably because Newey has been here before in the 80’s.

      Mercedes having a wide expanse of floor without sidepod hardware must give them the opportunity to somewhat copy the narrow & tall RB tunnel strategy provided they don’t waste too much time tinkering around the edges of the problem.

      The motivation for the low depth MB venturi might have come from their success at the end of last year with stalling their diffuser on the straights, gaining top speed. This year the overwhelming contribution of the floor to downforce seems to have made this strategy too difficult achieve predictably with a suspension calibration. The ‘collapsing suspension’ devices Mercedes used in the rear suspension last year to stall the diffuser seem to have been outlawed by the new regulations [though the regs are complicated and I wouldn’t claim to have fully grasped their intent].

      New floor design please..

      1. @frasier Great stuff, thanks.

  12. “Wolff said the team’s experience in Miami has “definitely given us answers” about the car.”
    Seems we have heard this earlier in the season. Several times.
    if the sweet spot is small, moving and difficult to identify, it will usually hard to hit.
    In past years, teams tested at Barcelona in the early spring and then when they went back for the regular race, the conditions were different, so much so that there was little correlation from Testing to Race. Why would this year be different or will it.?
    If you were a Merc Team member, working your butt off to provide a better car and there off to the side, is your top driver chirping constantly about how bad a job you are doing, how does this work towards motivation.?
    Lewis, it’s a Team, no “I”.

    1. Oh I don’t know, if said top team member had earned me millions in bonuses driving the ‘teams’ creation over the years and I then asked him to drive a car that provides a nice platform for early onset dementia, I might just keep my mouth shut until I had fixed it?

      You of course think differently.

  13. Why must lewis always be the only driver that does know about car set up etc. Or why do people think he always had the best car he didn’t.he never went to Mercedes when they were winning. Oncr he was there a season or 2 and they were winning. When they were winning he was dualling with rosberg. Either he is brainless with unprecedented unlimited talent to take on 2 time world champion at his peak Alonso. Or he does have some knowledge about cars etc.

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