Mercedes are hoping to have an upgrade ready that will help them to solve the issue of “porpoising” as they look to return to the front of the grid next time out in Miami.
The Silver Arrows endured a tough weekend at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, and it all started on Friday when slippery conditions prevented both George Russell and Sir Lewis Hamilton from getting the tyres into a good operating window, and they were both eliminated from Q2 when more rain began to fall following Carlos Sainz’s crash.
Both drivers were irritated by the fact that they could not generate enough temperature due to the frequency of the red flag, and trackside engineer Andrew Shovlin is adamant that they must get to the bottom of their tyre heat conundrum.
“We had a car all weekend that was struggling with warm-up,” he explained in Mercedes’ debrief video after the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
“Going out on slick tyres on a damp track is a very challenging and really we need to understand why we’ve got this warm-up problem.
“We know from previous races, we know from previous damp qualifyings that those are conditions that Lewis excels in changing conditions.
“There’s an underlying problem with this car, it’s very difficult for us to generate temperature, and we need to fix that before we get back to a situation where we can really gamble on those changing conditions.”
Things got worse for Hamilton as the weekend progressed, and he would ultimately fall down to P14 in both the sprint race and the main event on Sunday, but was elevated to 13th by virtue of Esteban Ocon’s penalty.
Conversely, George Russell finished the race an excellent fourth following a superb start, while Hamilton found himself caught up for the majority of the afternoon behind Pierre Gasly.
Team principal Toto Wolff defended the seven-time world champion by indicating that the car is easier to drive in clear air than it is in traffic but, in any case, the Briton has ruled himself out of the title races four rounds into the season.
Some of the frustration will inevitably derive from the bouncing the Mercedes cars are suffering on the straights, which is costing them in a straight line as the turbulence extrudes into undesirable areas of the car, but it affects them by the time they get to the corners too.
Shovlin suggests that the engineers in Brackley may have something ready by the Miami Grand Prix next weekend.
“A lot of the work that is going on in [the factory in] Brackley has been to understand the phenomenon and whether we can actually control it, whether we can engineer it out of the car,” he added.
“Is there an aerodynamic solution that we can apply to the car that will make this problem go away?
“Now, being realistic we think this will be something we approach in steps rather than one big moment where the whole thing vanishes.
“But we are seeing encouraging signs. As I said, we are hoping to bring parts to the car soon, maybe even Miami where we can hopefully see progress on this issue.”
Mercedes were passed by Red Bull for second in the Constructors’ Standings in Imola after Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez claimed the team’s first one-two since 2016.