Mercedes claims to have found a 'mistake' that doomed its 2022 - The Race

Mercedes claims to have found a ‘mistake’ that doomed its 2022 – The Race

Mercedes says it can point to “a moment” last year when it made a fundamental mistake that put the team on course for a tricky 2022 Formula 1 season with its struggling W13 car.

After winning seven successive drivers’ and constructors’ championships, Mercedes has been fumbling its approach to overhauling F1’s aerodynamic regulations this year.

The team are without a race win for the first time since 2011 and are on course to finish third in the constructors’ championship behind runaway championship leaders Red Bull and a resurgent Ferrari.

The W13 proved to be a very inconsistent package which saw Mercedes go from podium challengers to battling in the middle of the pack in the first half of the season as it struggled with porpoising issues.

Mercedes has ironed out some of the car’s issues – including its porpoising – and can now take on Red Bull and Ferrari at its stronger circuits like Singapore and Hungary.

But the car still lacks performance on low downforce tracks, still produces ‘mood swings’ that confuse the team and has yet to score an elusive first victory in 2022.

These faults are due to a mistake he cannot completely correct, one that was made last year, according to Mercedes technical director Mike Elliott.

“You look at how we developed the car, and I can highlight a moment in time last year when we did something where I think we made a mistake,” Elliott said. told F1’s Beyond The Grid podcast.

“What you’re seeing in terms of performance and how that fluctuates from race to race as a result, and that’s a mistake that we’ve known about for a while, and something that we’ve fixed and that’s why our performance has gradually improved.

“But that’s not something we can completely fix for a little while, and we will over the winter.”

Elliott wouldn’t be drawn to the exact details of the “error”, but it is believed to be related to the design of the floor, particularly its exposed part.

He also explained how the former F1 benchmark team saw a “loophole” that led the team to their unusual “zero pontoon” concept.

“With a loophole, you go through the winter and you look and think ‘has someone else spotted it, is someone else going to show up with it? “,” Elliot added.

“Although it looks very different visually, as always with these things, it’s about opening up small aero advantages.

Mercedes F1 Singapore GP Lewis Hamilton

“Without launching development on the concept we have, and launching development on a different concept, it’s hard to know what it will be worth in the end.

“But it wasn’t a huge game changer, in the learning we’ve found this year, it’s less about the shape of the car, it’s more about how we approach car development. , this is where the difference lies.

“When you look at the pontoon people say ‘it looks very different, it must work completely differently from the rest of the cars’, and it doesn’t, it’s just a slightly different solution.

“Aerodynamically I don’t think it’s a massive departure from the other cars, it’s just something that adds a bit of performance for us.”

The team has yet to confirm whether it will continue to pursue this concept or move closer to the concept run by 2022 benchmark team Red Bull, as Williams and McLaren did earlier this year.

Mercedes’ initial concept raised eyebrows when it debuted at F1’s official pre-season testing in Bahrain because it appeared to run counter to the spirit of the regulations.

Mercedes F1 pontoon

Elliott confirmed that the FIA ​​was surprised by what Mercedes had produced and explained how it was quickly determined that it was a legal concept amid some speculation at the time about its legality.

“The aerodynamicists came up with the idea, we take another group of people, usually led by our lead designer, they’ll go get each other and see if they can shoot it down,” Elliott explained when asked how. the team had taken care of its design. was legal.

“Before the test we had shown it to the FIA, we discussed it with them, their first reaction was ‘ah that’s not what we wanted’ and they worked on it as well, [to] see if they can challenge it.

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