Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Miami International Autodrome, 2022

Mercedes hopeful of “another step forward” in Spain

2022 Spanish Grand Prix

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff believes the return to a track the team has run at already this year will help them make further gains with their troublesome car.

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have been plagued by porpoising in their W13. The team appeared to experience a breakthrough in Friday practice for the Miami Grand Prix, but slipped back to its usual position in qualifying and the race.

Wolff said they had “the third quickest car” last time out and “extracted the maximum points possible” with it.

“During Friday practice, the car showed flashes of its true potential,” Wolff explained. “We continued experimenting with set-up, fitted some new components and that’s provided us answers and indications of which direction to go in.”

This weekend the team will return to the scene of this year’s first test. Mercedes ran a conventional sidepod design during that three-day event, before introducing its radical ‘zero pod’ construction in Bahrain.

Wolff said they gained useful information from Miami ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix.

“A huge amount of hard work has been going on in the factories to unpick the data from Miami and turn it into improvements for Barcelona,” he said. “Having run there in winter testing, albeit with a car that has evolved a lot since then, it will be a good place to correlate the information we have on the current car and we’re hopeful that we’ll make another step forward.”

Turn 10 at the Circuit de Catalunya was slightly altered last year which Mercedes believe made overtaking even harder at a venue where it was already difficult. Wolff is hoping the new generation of F1 cars can race more closely at the circuit.

“The track itself is a good all-rounder, so it really puts every aspect of the car to the test,” he said. “It’s never been a great track for overtaking so it’ll be interesting to see how these new-shape 2022 F1 cars impact the on-track spectacle in Spain.

“In basketball terms, we head to Barcelona at the end of the first quarter of the game. We know that once we translate the learnings we’ve made into track performance, there’s still a lot of the game left to play.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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23 comments on “Mercedes hopeful of “another step forward” in Spain”

  1. Yes, it will be interesting to see whether they can unlock some of the performance potential they have in that car somewhere.

    Whether they can, will probably have quite an impact on the shape of the championship this year. They might end up being able to mix it with the 2nd cars of the championship rivals for the podium, and it might change the shape of the midfield battle. Or it will just see them only making minor progress and continuing to be part of the group with McLaren and Alfa Romeo (and sometimes AT and Alpine) for best of the rest.

  2. Spain is going to determine all merc’s championship chances. A win and the championship is theirs.

    1. Making up 1 second difference is quit a big thing as the other are also bringing updates. Red Bull will bring weight reducing parts which makes them even faster.

      1. @macleod Exactly, as you imply it might be more than one second that MB has to find now, with not just RBR but Ferrari also bringing upgrades. Spain is just one step too, for RBR for example is apparently poised to bring even more upgrades for Silverstone than they are bringing to Spain, and even though I haven’t been able to glean as much about Ferrari, I’m sure they have their scheduled upgrades too, beyond this weekend that is. I’m sure they’re looking to shave weight as well, which is something MB will be having to try to do all the while trying to just understand the car.

        Methinks Mercedes at this point would have to sort out some kind of unprecedented-in-F1’s-history mid-season reversal of form in order to be able to fight for wins and the Championship, and what we are hearing is moreso talk such as they don’t even understand the car. They’d have to very soon start utterly dominating, knowing that Max and CL would still be grabbing big points too. So if they can somehow, particularly with the budget caps in place, go from where they are to utterly dominating, well, that would be some kind of historical feat, no question. As well, since that would have to happen very soon, would they have to give the nod to GR to get the lion’s share of the points since LH lags so far behind, with about a third of CL’s points and only a bit better than half of GR’s?

  3. Hope dies last and i really want MB to be back on form at least to be in position to annoy the 1st 2 teams and have 3 teams fighting.
    As for the championship this train has gone imo but as i said, you never know :)

    1. Ahreed

  4. They easily have the best line-up of all teams and these lengthy calendars mean its far from over. The season hasn’t started properly yet. For me personally I would like to see them remaining in the midfield for a year (for the sake of variation) but I expect them to make a strong comeback.

  5. They should bring back the first test bodywork for a Friday. The computer says the zero side pod car is faster but the computer doesn’t predict the bouncing or tell you how to master it. If the car that is quick in CFD is slow on the track because you have a bad model or you ran out of computing power, possibly the car that is slower in CFD can be faster on the track.

  6. Ah, armchair F1 engineers! Alternately, possibly the car that is slow in CFD form is even slower on the track. I suspect the Mercedes’ engineers, all 50 or 100 of them, are seriously looking for solutions and are considering things you can’t have any idea or understanding of.

  7. Having run there in winter testing, albeit with a car that has evolved a lot since then

    ‘Evolved.’ Okay. I’m not sure evolving into a marine mammal qualifies as an improvement in this non-aquatic medium, though.

  8. The Barcelona test car was the fastest in winter testing. It didn’t porpoise.

  9. Unless they have fixed porpoising I expect no change ahead of this weekend. Expecting Ferrari and Rbr to be quicker.

  10. As the only team to have such a concept and design philosophy, once they get it right, ie., solve the porpoising problem that has wrong-footed them, and enable them to run the car in the set-up window / low ride height it’s designed for, they could be unbeatable for a long time. Similar to when they were the only team to run a low-rake, long wheel-base car; when they managed to sort out the slow-speed corners’ issue with that concept, the car became unbeatable! They have the tendency to go for ‘difficult’ concepts/designs, knowing very well most teams wouldn’t try it or will abandon it.
    I really hope they don’t abandon the concept and see what the others will start saying about it once they get it right!
    I believe the ultimate solution would be a new floor coupled with a new rear suspension that can manage and stabilise the downforce / aerodynamic loads at low ride height, at high speeds and in high-speed corners. Why am I saying this? James Allison mentioned in one of their race debrief videos that the cause of the porpoising is not what the pundits / media are reporting and one of the first things George Russell said about it was the introduction of active suspension!

    If Alfa Romeo can bring a new suspension, which they did at Imola, then the Mercs can as well. Watch the space…

    1. The difference between them solving this new issue and past issues, is the budget cap and lowering of the resources they can throw at the issue. In years gone by, money wasn’t a huge obstacle, this year is not like any other year, they have a hard resource limit, they can’t spend in multiple directions and trial several methods, they cannot waste the resources they have allocated.

      1. True. Also as the championship winners they had paid with less wind tunnel time making matters all the more difficult with this radically new racing concept.

    2. DonSalsa It certainly remains to be seen if their philosophy can be made to work, but for now I doubt any team is that intrigued to follow MB, and I think it is safe to say at a bare minimum if the teams, for example the Adrian Neweys’ of the world do think there is something to this philosophy, well then they are having ample opportunity to study Mercedes’ journey with the concept. So in other words I don’t envision MB necessarily getting it right with this concept given how problematic it has been, but if indeed they do find something I think the other teams will have already figured out several aspects of the concept and what it has needed, so they won’t be ‘surprised’ shall we say…ie. I don’t envision a time when they will “see what the others will start saying about it once they get it right!” I think if that somehow happens the others will still say they were glad they didn’t go down the MB route given the headaches it has caused. But if Mercedes does somehow succeed in sorting this concept out and there is potency to it, then the other teams are there to glean from that and take from it whatever they might be able to use for themselves for next year.

      As to a new floor and new rear suspension as you suggest, sure I can see those helping and likely being necessary, but then they have to consider a new front wing and a new rear diffuser and rear wing and who knows what else in order to get everything to work well together. Note that not everyone has porpoising, particularly to MB’s degree, and as well some with noticeable porpoising such as Ferrari still manage to be in race winning form. So there is no guarantee whatsoever that MB solving porpoising automatically puts them in win-capable territory. With all the changes they’ll need to make, will they be able to find setups and balance the car and have it be kind to tires or get them in the right window and keep them there? At all different kinds of venues and temps and humidities? So so many variables to this, and Mercedes now has limited time and resources as they have to decide on a new way of thinking (or of discovery) and get any changes they make right the first time or continue waffling.

      1. @Robbie: what can I say, you may be right or I may be right but the bottom-line is we simply don’t know for certain. What is certain is that the Merc engineers are fully at it and I believe it is a matter of when, not if.
        Today 18th, they’ve done a filming day at Paul Ricard, probably testing and correlating new parts, so let’s see how they fair in Barcelona.
        With regards to others going down that philosophy if it becomes a winning one, not sure how easy it can be done within a season? It will require a fundamental re-packaging of the PU and its ancillaries. Besides, teams tend to copy Adrian designs; recent example is the high-rake vs low-rake philosophies and teams stayed with the Newey concept although the Mercs were winning with the low-rake concept until Aston Martin copied them in 2020.
        I believe they will get it right at some point, and when that happens, I wouldn’t want to see other teams protesting the design by quickly forgetting the pains the Mercs went through before getting it right!

        1. DonSalsa Fair comment. And I don’t see anyone protesting Mercedes’ design, even if they get something right with it. And for now it is the two teams that have the ‘fattest’ shall we say sidepods that are having the most success. Be very interesting to see who gravitates towards what shapes for next year. Or possibly even this year.

          For now I just don’t buy the rhetoric from Mercedes that they have something good going but just haven’t found a way to unlock it. That’s to me a fancy (or shady) way of saying ‘we have a dog of a car but someday, somehow that we don’t understand right now, it will be a rocket.’ The worst teams with the worst cars over the years could have said the same things…’there’s a rocket in there somewhere, we just don’t know where.’ Ok I’m being a bit harsh here lol since Merc is sitting third. A shakey third though at that. And of course way below their usual standards.

  11. When the mercs solve their issues some people are going to miss the old days when the fight was between ferrari and redbull…

    1. So you’re saying it’s going to be quite a while then.

  12. I think what we saw on in Miami’s first and second practice was Mercedes successfully testing a new floor concept. With those tests out of the way they resorted to their established but non function floor. They now have the time to bring that into the next race as a legitimate upgrade.

    Talk of them resorting to the fat pods is premature. I think Mercedes have turned a corner and will prove this new slim pod design in the coming races. Who Knows we might still see a home win at Silverstone. Russells’s first?

    I think that Mercedes will continue to use the practices to test aspects of their proposed upgrades. They really have no choice.

    1. Is that what happened? If so why wouldn’t they stick with the floor they practiced successfully, for the rest of the weekend? Doesn’t make sense to me. GR said the car was night and day different on Saturday and Sunday from Friday, but he explained that as the car being not just a diva but a mystery. You’d think he would have said ‘yeah it was the new floor we tried on Friday and we should have stuck with it for the rest of the weekend…’ but instead no mention of any explainable reason why they couldn’t replicate Friday’s performance other than this car is a mystery to them right now.

      So to me I don’t at all see where they have ‘turned a corner’ with the car. But yeah, make Friday practices actually test sessions? Sure of course that makes sense as they have nothing to lose doing that. They could practice with whatever setups they think might be best only to find the car behaving differently the next day anyway, so might as well think toward solving this car or getting to the point of deciding it would be good money after bad to chase it and just concentrate on next year’s car.

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