‘Easy gains’: Mercedes set to close gap to Ferrari and Red Bull in next two races

Mercedes are expecting imminent improvements to their car after a disappointing start to the 2022 season.

Mercedes trackside engineer Andrew Shovlin has revealed that the team have found some solutions to the problems that have thus far hampered them in 2022.

The eight-time constructors’ champions appeared to struggle during pre-season testing under the all-new technical regulations, in which ground effect has returned amid Formula 1’s attempt to facilitate better and closer racing.

They expressed concerns over the performance aptitude of their 2022 challenger, something that Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz dismissed as “typical” mind games from the Silver Arrows.

They turned out to be very justified worries though, and they found themselves qualifying fifth through Sir Lewis Hamilton and ninth through George Russell at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

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The 37-year-old did manage a podium by virtue of a heart-breaking double late retirement for the Red Bull cars of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.

However, they were a substantial margin behind Sainz and race winner Charles Leclerc, as Ferrari gave an unequivocal message that they are back in business.

Russell suggested after the race that the Brackley side’s hindrances run deeper than their power unit, but Shovlin affirms that they have remedies lined up.

“I think we’ll get some easy gains, I think there is some low-hanging fruit and what we’re hoping is that we can get those in the next race or two,” he said.

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“We’re working race by race at the moment. The factory is primed to bring absolutely anything they can in the next few days.

“We’re learning with every day. Every time the car is out on track, there is a lot of work going on in the factory, trying to understand the science of what is going on but we are learning every day and if we have got something useful to bring to Jeddah, we’ll make sure we can get it there on the car.”

The Briton, who served as Jenson Button’s race engineer when he won his world title with Brawn in 2009, concedes that the problems are fairly comprehensive.

“There is a lot of everything,” he stated.

“There is bouncing, the balance is poor, there is a lack of low-speed grip, we’re struggling on traction, the drivability could be better, the tyre warm-up is not good enough and the car’s a bit on the heavy side.”

The silver lining presents itself in the fact that there is plenty of scope for development.

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“There is a lot for us to work on but by the same measure, there is a lot for us to improve and that gives us some encouragement because a year ago when we were here in Bahrain, that list of areas to improve wasn’t as big as it is now,” explained the 48-year-old.

The alterations intended to ameliorate the difficulties Mercedes have been experiencing could well be in place this weekend at the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

And, noting that the Jeddah Corniche Circuit has notably long flat-out sections, ex-F1 racer Marc Surer recently told Formula1News.co.uk that he does not believe the Mercedes power unit has a particular deficit to Ferrari’s package.