Mercedes worked through Easter to claw back F1 deficit

George Russell

The Mercedes Formula 1 team worked through the Easter holidays in its efforts to claw back the performance deficit it has to the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull.

The Anglo-German squad sits second in the constructors’ championship with both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell having stood on the podium thus far in 2022.

However, those results came courtesy of poor reliability for Red Bull, which saw both RB18s fall out of podium places in the closing laps in Bahrain, and Max Verstappen retire while running second in Australia last time out.

Mercedes’ biggest weakness has been porpoising, which affects the W13 more than others on the grid.

The aerodynamic phenomena, which sees the airflow under the car stall, has plagued most teams following the introduction of new technical regulations this year.

However, while for most the issue disappears during the braking phase prior to corner entry, at Mercedes the bouncing continues into the corner, hurting both performance and driver confidence.

“There’s been a lot of hard work over the Easter weekend in the factory to bring improvements to the car and get it ready to head to the next race, and that shows the team’s dedication to turning the situation around,” said team boss Toto Wolff.

“Of course, we must be realistic, it will take time to make the gains we want, but we’re learning as much as we can from each race and finding avenues to push us forward.”

Despite those issues, George Russell recorded his first podium finish for Mercedes in Australia, with Lewis Hamilton trailing him to the line in fourth.

With only Sergio Perez seeing the flag for Red Bull, it meant the difference in the constructors’ championship between the two organisations has widened.

“Melbourne was a great weekend for Formula One, the atmosphere was incredible, and it was wonderful to be back in Australia in front of so many fans,” Wolff said.

“For us, the race went better than we expected, especially after a difficult Friday.

“George and Lewis were both on strong form all weekend and delivered a useful haul of points for the Team. We learned a lot and really maximised the opportunities available, and that’s what we need to keep doing.

“We know we haven’t got the pace of the Ferrari and Red Bull right now. But we’re working hard to reduce their advantage, and it’s been brilliant to see everyone across the factories pulling together to achieve this.”

Formula 1 this weekend returns to Europe for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Hamilton last year charged his way back to second after finding himself off the road midway through the wet-dry encounter.

“Now we look ahead to Imola and the first Sprint event of the season,” Wolff said.

“It’s an historic, old-school circuit with a challenging layout that the drivers really enjoy.

“Qualifying is important owing to the narrow track, while its sweeping nature really puts the cars to the test. We’re looking forward to seeing how 2022 machinery tackles Imola.”

Track action in Imola begins on Friday with Free Practice 1 at 21:30 AEST.

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