Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Paul Ricard, 2022

Mercedes expect Hungarian GP will ‘expose our qualifying weakness’

2022 French Grand Prix

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Mercedes expect they will find it difficult to replicate the double podium finish they scored at Paul Ricard when Formula 1 moves to the Hungaroring this weekend.

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell finished second and third at the French Grand Prix, the latter overtaking Sergio Perez on-track to take the final podium place.

Mercedes’ motorsport strategy director James Vowles said that performance was possible because the track allowed the team to capitalise on their strong race pace.

“I think where we are at the moment is clearly we are improving the car race-on-race and our race pace is getting there,” said Vowles. “But qualifying isn’t at the moment.

“We are struggling to really get into the mix with them and there is going to be certain tracks like Paul Ricard and Silverstone where we are able to use that race pace to our advantage.”

Mercedes also capitalised on the opportunities presented by their rivals last weekend, said Vowles. “It’s fair to say there are weeks where it is difficult to distinguish between the two Ferraris and the two Red Bulls. There are weeks where Perez’s pace is similar to Verstappen or offset by simply a small amount. This weekend looked to be a larger difference.

“In the case of Sainz, he had engine penalties which meant he started from the back of the grid. Had he been in front, he was an incredibly fast car and it would have been difficult to beat, so we have an element of realism.”

This weekend’s race at the Hungaroring, where overtaking is notoriously difficult, will not play to Mercedes’ race-day strength, said Vowles.

“It’s very difficult at Budapest if you start behind to move back forward through the field again. There are opportunities, it’s just more difficult.”

“We are here to improve and to move forward but we are not there yet. We need others to make mistakes and to pick up the pieces from it and move forward.”

However Vowles is encouraged by the renewed optimism at Mercedes following their difficult start to the season.

“I am incredibly pleased to see that people are getting carried away,” he said. “The whole point of motorsport is to create some of the highest highs you can ever feel and some of the lowest lows as well.

“But we are not where we need to be yet to be winning, that’s the short answer to it, especially for example on qualifying pace and Hungary will expose that weakness somewhat. We have made steps forward and I can see progress, and we can see progress for how we are going to move forward again across the next few races, but in Budapest we have to be realistic.

“Where we are with this car is a strong race car but we may not be able to use all of it in the conditions that are presented to us. We need to do a better job than we have been doing to make sure we are qualifying where the car should be, towards the front.”

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2022 French Grand Prix

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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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13 comments on “Mercedes expect Hungarian GP will ‘expose our qualifying weakness’”

  1. Title race is becoming a one horse race bore. Need Merc back in the mix

    1. Agree, the weekends race will be another borefest without Merc in the hunt challenging because perez is miles behind max and his only reason to exist at RB is to be a blocker for wunderkind max and Ferrari are too unreliable and with inconsistent drivers.

      1. Just like Bottas was for Hamilton 2017-2021. A blocker. Valterri, it’s James.

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      27th July 2022, 21:16

      Yeah it was a nice change to finally have a rare battle for the Championship last year. Unless Ferrari get their act together quickly, we’re going back to the dark days of 2017-2020. At least the gap isn’t a huge as it has been at times though and as it’s primarily down to the car instead of the engine, the teams can do a lot more to catch up with their new designs for next year.

      1. 2017 and 2018 Ferrari put up a far better challenge that this year, Seb was leading at this stage in both 2017 and 2018,

    3. We need them in the mix by their own merit and not with a biased rule change towards them.

      1. Because that never happened when Red Bull came back into the mix last year?
        The rule changes regarding floors were specifically aimed at hampering low rake designs and helping high rake designs.
        It looked like Red Bull would run away with it, until Mercedes found the way.

        But it gave us the best season for years. It would have been an all time classic, down to the wire battle had the race director not left it with a sour taste. Even finishing under safety car, it would have been a classic season. However, it reeks of WWF style fakeness and at least this year is real, and Verstappen will be world champion with little controversy.

        This year’s changes so far are aimed only at safety and clarification of what the rules were always intended to say – in case you haven’t noticed, Merc have had the porpoising under control for a while now and will win a race before the end of the season, rule changes or not. They will also beat Ferrari to second in the constructors if the red team don’t soon start to do things right – it seems that every decision brings an opportunity to make the wrong call and they take it. Every time.

        Merc are not quite capable of racing with Red Bull and Ferrari – but will be very soon. Ferrari are throwing their championship challenge away and are likely to finish 3rd with the fastest car. Meanwhile Mercedes may finish 2nd when they started the season lucking into points.

    4. I hope that they’ll win a race this year, I know it’s possible if Max and Charles crash at the first corner, Sergio has a bad day and Carlos does business as usual. W13 is best described as bad marriage between good aero and poor chassis.

    5. That is a bit hard to say it’s a one horse race as Ferrari is stil the faster car their problem is that Red Bull is almost as fast and ANY mistake will be punished!
      It would be great if Mercedes could join the top.

    6. I’d rather see another team in the mix.

  2. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
    28th July 2022, 14:45

    the latter overtaking Sergio Perez on-track to take the final podium place.

    Lewis overtook Perez on track as well.

  3. All this ruminating over which team will finish where …. this is Hungary. The track is different than most so far and the performance of the various cars will be dependant more on the drivers than most other tracks. Luv it.
    Look on the bright side, Russel has a chance to shine, Alonso should drive the wheels off his Renault, sorry, Alpine, and all the others have chances to make up for deficiencies in the high speed aero that is so difficult to make work.
    Maybe Max or Charles will run away with it, but I doubt it. Should be the best darn race to watch this weekend.
    As always, before a wheel has been turned, … Gonna be GREAT.

  4. Mercedes, Hamilton and Toto love to play mind games with the other teams. Their biggest mind game is—to cry Wolff. If you know what I mean.

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