Mercedes beginning to understand difficult F1 W13

Lewis Hamilton

The Mercedes Formula 1 team feels it is beginning to finally understand its troubled 2022 challenger.

The all-conquering squad dominated F1 under its previous regulation set but has struggled to get on top of new rules introduced this season.

It remains without a win beyond the halfway point of the season after it spending the early part of the campaign trying to understand the issues which plagued its new design.

Chief among them was its propensity to porpoise, leading Lewis Hamilton to report he was subjected to 10G forces as the car bottomed out during the course of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Team boss Toto Wolff had stated that his team would not turn its back on the current design until it understood the issues, save risking carrying them forward.

It now seems that those problems have been understood with trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin suggesting there’s been a shift in attitude within the team in recent weeks.

“You never draw a line, it’s a gradual blend of resource into W13 drifting downwards and 14 drifting upwards,” he said of the process of transferring resources onto next year’s car.

“Every team will have started some work on next year, the difference for us was the early part of the year was very tough.

“It wasn’t making a log of sense, and it was really firefighting.

“We’re just starting to get to a stage now where we can get back to what we would call the sort of business as usual development, and that’s actually quite exciting,” Shovlin added.

“There’s a lot of happy people at the factory now that we’re sort of getting into more a phase that’s starting to make sense to us.

“We need to score points, we need to fight in the championships, but the big one is we’ve got to learn to know what we want to do for next year, and to try get the car back to the front.”

Hamilton and team-mate George Russell handed Mercedes its first double-podium result of the season at last weekend’s French Grand Prix.

It was a promising performance for the squad, though the outcome was somewhat fortuitous given the early demise of Charles Leclerc and rear-of-grid start for Carlos Sainz.

Even still, both cars were running towards the front and capitalised on the opportunity, Russell passing Red Bull’s Sergio Perez on track in the closing laps to claim third.

“The beginning of the year was, not miserable because they could always be way worse, but just in terms of, I would say from a drivers’ perspective, understanding this car was just so confusing,” said Hamilton after finishing second in Paul Ricard.

“We’re trying so many different things, we’re trying to advance and no trust in the machine beneath you, particularly in the rear end. And that’s really held us back a little bit.

“So to now be in a position where we’re starting to understand the car a little bit more, we’ve got more consistency coming up, we’re seeing more consistency, that’s given us much more of an enjoyable drive.

“We still lack performance in some of those areas, but we’re slowly getting there,” he continued.

“But it’s like small chips, just constantly chipping away at it – unfortunately can’t take big leaps at the moment, but who knows, maybe one big leap will come at some stage we’ll be right there.”

Hamilton has recorded podiums in the past four events, while the team has had one of its drivers on the dais at every event since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Mercedes holds third in the constructors’ championship, 44 points down on Ferrari in second and 126 in arrears of Red Bull after 12 races.

Formula 1 is back in action this weekend at the Hungarian Grand Prix, Free Practice 1 for which begins at 22:00 AEST on Friday.

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