Despite not having the pace to challenge for victories, the Mercedes F1 Team have still racked up seven podium finishes this season, with four third-place finishes for Sir Lewis Hamilton and three third-place finishes for George Russell.
Mercedes have consistently been able to make the most of retirements ahead of them, with both Ferrari and Red Bull Racing falling foul of poor reliability this campaign.
The German team have staggeringly only had one retirement this season, with Russell being forced to retire from the British Grand Prix after being involved in the opening lap crash which saw Guanyu Zhou barrel-roll across the gravel.
Ex-F1 driver Jolyon Palmer hailed Mercedes’ W13 as “bulletproof”, something which has kept them in touch with both Ferrari and Red Bull in the Constructors’ Championship.
“Incredibly, given the performance of their car, [Mercedes] have still managed to finish a race weekend on the podium more often than not so far,” Palmer noted in his latest column for Formula1.com.
“[They have scored] seven podium finishes from 11 races, including finishing third in the last four Grands Prix, compared to 14 podiums for Red Bull and 11 for Ferrari, including victories.
“Pretty much all of this has been due to a disrupted season for the title contenders.
“Both Ferrari and Red Bull have had multiple DNFs across both cars, which has often meant that a typical battle for fifth becomes a podium battle, which Mercedes are winning out.”
The Silver Arrows are 122-points behind Red Bull, with 11-races remaining, a gap which could be bridged should Mercedes return to winning ways.
Incredibly, even with the racing being closer than ever before, only one driver outside of the top six in the championship has finished on the podium.
Lando Norris is the only midfield driver to have claimed a top-three finish this season, with the McLaren F1 Team driver having finished third at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes have dominated the podium this season, having taken up 32 out of 33 places on the rostrum in the first-half of the season.
Palmer describes this as a “quirk” of 2022, with the closer racing not necessarily resulting in more frequent unexpected podium finishers as seen in 2021.
“In fact, while Mercedes have been picking up podiums that their pace hasn’t necessarily deserved thanks to their bulletproof reliability, it has also highlighted another quirk of 2022,” continued Palmer.
“Only Lando Norris has secured a podium outside of the top six [in the standings] so far this year with his drive at Imola – Mercedes’ most absent race of the season.
“This time last year the podium spots were far more open, with Norris securing three podiums in the first 11 Grands Prix, as well as Pierre Gasly and Sebastian Vettel netting one and even Esteban Ocon achieving a first win in Budapest.
“All this despite the leaders hitting trouble actually more often this year than last.
“The difference has been Mercedes’ metronomic winning of the battle for ‘best of the rest’, and effectively forming a seal between the lead battle and the plucky midfielders,” concluded Palmer.