Mercedes insist they won’t pursue same design philosophy forever

Mercedes are third in the Constructors' Standings.

Mercedes trackside engineer, Andrew Shovlin, has accredited the team’s recent upturn in form to their perseverance with a misbehaving W13.

The Silver Arrows had initially looked marginally off the pace of Red Bull and Ferrari, but they hung onto the back of them in Bahrain in the opening round of the season, comfortably beating the midfield runners behind them.

Sir Lewis Hamilton earned a podium in Sakhir after both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez suffered identical failures for Red Bull, so while the German side were a bit behind, it looked very recoverable.

However, their “porpoising” and bouncing troubles hit home in the second weekend of 2022 as Hamilton was knocked out in the first qualifying phase for the first time since 2017.

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What cost him was the setup of the car; he and his engineers decided to raise the ride height to counter the “porpoising” dramas, but this only served to make it undriveable through the corners, and therein has lied Mercedes’ problem.

Getting this year’s challenger into a solid operating window has proven particularly troublesome; temperatures, track surfaces and undulation have all played a part.

When they have got it right, they produce performances like Hamilton’s extraordinary pace in Silverstone, or George Russell’s pole in Hungary, as well as his fight with the Red Bulls in Spain.

The Brackley-based team are still yet to win a race in 2022, and former Formula 1 driver Martin Brundle anticipated that the current design – complete with near non-existent sidepods – would have to be abandoned.

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“There must be a point coming soon when they have to accept this car and concept doesn’t work and have a redesign for the second half of the season,” he said, quoted by the Express.

However, while Mercedes are willing to consider other approaches, sticking with the original plan has ultimately paid dividends.

“We’re not really saying, ‘Right, this is the route that we’re going to pursue forevermore’, we’re very open-minded about what we want the car to be,” Shovlin told the F1 Nation Podcast.

“I think what is validated is that the development route that we are currently on can deliver more, and that’s a route that is starting to look like it can deliver us success and deliver us race wins this year.

“There’s no doubt that sticking on our current path, by and large, will be the thing that gives us the best performance this year.” 

11 podiums scored between Hamilton and Russell have put Mercedes back to within 30 points of second-placed Ferrari after another nightmare in Hungary for Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.