Frederik Vesti, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2022 post-season test

Mercedes explain their ‘table of doom’ which predicted worst tracks for W13

2022 F1 season

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Mercedes referred to its internal metrics which predicted which circuits would be best and worst for its problematic W13 as the “table of doom”.

The team began the 2022 Formula 1 season well off the pace of eventual champions Red Bull and their early rivals Ferrari. Although the team gradually made progress with the W13, even by the end of the season it found the car worked considerably better at some tracks than others.

This was highlighted over the final two rounds. Mercedes won at Interlagos but one week later at Yas Marina were only the third-quickest team.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff revealed on Saturday the team’s “table of doom” had foreseen that swing in performance.

“We always knew that we need to be prudent and not set our expectations based on the Brazil result,” he told media including RaceFans. “I think that circuit perfectly suited our car and everything ran very, very smoothly. And Abu Dhabi in our ‘table of doom’ was one of the worst tracks.”

The team’s chief strategist James Vowles explained the thinking which went into the “table of doom.”

“This is something that we have constructed internally that allows us to somewhat predict where our car will be relative to certainly the fastest cars track on track and it worked fairly well,” he said in a video published by the team. “It’s something that actually had fairly good correlation across the season and it did say that in, for example, Mexico and Brazil we would be significantly more competitive than we were going to be in Abu Dhabi.

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“It’s a function of the properties that make our car both strong and weak and that transpired to be true.”

George Russell, Mercedes, Interlagos, 2022
Mercedes scored a one-two at Interlagos…
This meant there was an upside to the car’s varying performance at the end of the season, said Vowles. “As perhaps negative as it comes across, that’s a very good thing, because it means that the properties of our car that we understand we actually have a good grasp on them sufficiently so they actually look to be real in real life and then the reasons behind it look to be correlated.”

Mercedes believe they understand why both Red Bull and Ferrari were stronger than them in Abu Dhabi.

“Part of it is that I think Ferrari moved backwards across Mexico and Brazil. It’s hard to explain why, but they definitely weren’t as competitive there as they were towards the end of the season in Abu Dhabi. They were a fierce rival in Abu Dhabi, very, very quick on the straight line and competitive overall with good tyre degradation.

“That doesn’t obviously explain Red Bull and why we moved back [relative] to them. I think that is explained in the properties of where our car is weak and where it is strong. Brazil had a lot of cornering sequences, types of corners, speeds of corner that really suit the characteristics of our car which unfortunately we didn’t have in Abu Dhabi.

“The final one is Abu Dhabi is very, very cool conditions once we were really racing at night and we saw a few properties on the tyre a little bit of graining appearing on the front axle and on the rear axle and that for sure hurt us in the race.”

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Despite the improvements Mercedes have made with the understanding of their car, Vowles said there are not taking it for granted they will be able to make the progress they need with next year’s W14.

(L to R): Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes; Carlos Sainz Jr, Ferrari; Yas Marina, 2022
…but fell behind Red Bull and Ferrari a week later
“I don’t think you can truly now, or even across the winter, state that we know everything about the W13. Across the year we learned and discovered a whole series of new items that really we had to learn, understand and develop very quickly.”

However he believes the team’s performance clearly improved from their level on “normal” tracks such as Melbourne and Imola early in the year to where they were after their final update was introduced at the United States Grand Prix.

“There have been some ups and downs, very much so, and that’s the part of what I meant by this car has items that we believe we understand and some of them that still not fully explained as a result of that,” said Vowles. “But if you look at the direction moving forward, the gaps to the front, especially on race pace, we made huge amounts of progress and you only do that by understanding where your problems are, working on them and working as a team.”

The last race of the season shows the “void” where Mercedes must make further improvements in order to be competitive next year, said Vowles.

“The confidence we have is that we now have our tools, our wind tunnel tools, our development tools, our performance tools here in the organisation producing performance which is more than our competitors, it’s allowing us to move further forward relative to them,” he said.

“That [deficit] has to be caught up across the winter and I think we have a very good process and system in place to do that. That development that you saw across the season will continue across the winter and I think we will be in a very strong place next year.”

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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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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20 comments on “Mercedes explain their ‘table of doom’ which predicted worst tracks for W13”

  1. I mean, it was essentially what WWE’s JBL and “Maggle” would call Bizarro World this year (referring to crowds that acted opposite to what the writers and performers wanted in terms of cheering and booing for certain people).

    I found I could accurately predict the tracks Mercedes would be good at by looking at which tracks Red Bull were good at during the previous 5 or so years. Meanwhile, Red Bull pulled the opposite and were best at the tracks Mercedes excelled at. It was not entirely a like for like, but it came pretty close as far as I could tell.

    1. That’s actually interesting to note. I had the same view and it’s fascinating to see the role reversal these two have had. Ferrari seems to be an outlier and you can’t accurately predict where they’ll be strong. As a fan not very much conversant with the technical world of F1 engineering, I believe that as long as they sort out the straight line deficit and get on top of the porpoising phenomenon completely, they’ll be back next year with a bang. Obviously RB and Ferrari won’t be resting on their laurels, but I think next year it’ll be MB vs RB, no disrespect to Ferrari but I just don’t think they’ll be able to develop their car as well as those two plus their occasional operational failures.

    2. It’s actually an interesting topic and probably that some properties are more advantageous than other over a season as some configuration (corners, straights) will be found in more tracks. It appeared already last year that teams don’t already know their own expected performance at certain tracks but also their rivals which suggest they are making a properties table for their opponent as well which is probably a good way to measure their progress relative to competition while negating the track impact. A global performance delta is more relevant than delta at a specific track.

      1. It’s actually an interesting topic and probably that some properties are more advantageous than other over a season as some configuration (corners, straights) will be found in more tracks.

        This was outright said in 2017, when Ferrari had the clear upper hand in Monaco, Hungaroring and Singapore (well, until Räikkönen hit Verstappen at the start…).

        Mercedes explained that they used, if I remember correctly, a system that sorted the tracks into three categories and they optimized the car for the two most common – accepting that they might not win at, in this case, those particular slow and twisty tracks.

  2. Table of doom for the comfortably 3rd fastest car over the season.

    Drama.

    Reply moderated
  3. Clearly budget dependent but it will be nice if all teams can make a more benign car that works most if not all of the tracks such that there is competition all season long without and particular big swings.

    1. Let’s try that again!

      Clearly budget dependent but it will be nice if all the teams can make a more benign car that works at most if not all of the tracks such that there is competition all season long without any particular big swings.

  4. Table of doom is pretty simple.
    If track is:
    -bumpy track, very favourable
    -Smooth track, very unfavourable
    -Long straights, bad

    1. If only was that simple…

  5. They should have tried the light bulb experiment and inverted the scoring on the table. Hawthorne effect.

  6. Is that the new Indy movie? (Jones, not 500)

  7. prediction for next year.
    Mercedes will even do worse. They lost a lot of time on a very bad design. ( two in fact) As sky stated they lost 10 months in the beginning and the development went on untill the last track. Interesting to see if they stayed within the budget.
    RBR and Ferrari ended the development months earlier: The only reason Merc recovered some of the lost performance.
    They “won” on a track where RBR for the first time had a bad weekend. Ferrari was handicapped by a fast car with a fast engine they had to run at max 90% to prevent another blow out.
    This year Ferrari and RBR were on par as far as the car goes. Ferrari seemed to lost performance as a result of the floor rules and the tuned down engine.
    Mercedes still has a great engine but the cars this year were terrible. (and ugly;)
    Not sure if they are able to turn the tide. Before the budget cap they could throw millions for a fraction of a second performance. Rebuild cars and chassis on a monthly base. Not possible anymore.
    There will be some tough years ahead.

    1. Interesting to see if they stayed within the budget.

      The cars are effectively carryovers so if they can just move any developments over, they’re only spending it once.

    2. I actually suspect Mercedes had too much baseline downforce this year that made the car too slow on top speed. I expect they’ll gain chunks of time just fixing their aero efficiency. I reckon Red Bull will still be faster but it’ll be closer at the start and Mercedes will out develop them over the year.

      Call it a conspiracy theory but I also expect a reliability upgrade to their engine to fix the issue they had with Hamilton’s PU in the final race that will net them some extra HP by accident.

      Finally it will be interesting to see if the reduced development resources for Red Bull will actually cost them a tenth or two as theorised.

      1. It’s not about “too much” downforce, it’s too much drag per unit of downforce.

  8. That’s a heck of a lot of words to say ‘our car was fundamentally a draggy mess and once we sorted the suspension bouncing it still only really performed well on the slower tracks and those at higher altitudes’…

  9. I wonder if they’ll keep a) the zero pods, they’re cool; and b) the “concept” (hidden underneath the car) which earlier in the season supposedly had substantial performance if only they could “unlock” it. Mercedes did talk about going in a different direction with the W14.

  10. Out of interest, does anyone know what the W stands for in W13? Some teams use pretty obvious codes, Red Bulls are RB01, RB02 etc, Williams use FW1, FW2, etc, after Frank Williams, and Ferrari sometimes use SF-xx, which presumably is just Scuderia Ferrari, (Italian for squad or team). In recent years, McLaren has started using MCL numbers, but for years they used MP4-xx, harking back to the origins when Ron Dennis merged McLaren with his own Project 4 racing. So the numbers usually make sense in their own way. But why does Mercedes use W?

    1. I think it is for “wagen”? That is “car/vehicle.”

      1. Ah, that’s German efficiency for you. And here was me thinking it might be Weeeeeeeeeeeyowmmmmmmm.

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