Mercedes’ plan to close the performance gap to Ferrari and Red Bull ahead of the 2022 Australian Grand Prix next weekend has suffered a blow.
The Silver Arrows were planning to run a new floor and rear wing in Melbourne, but the former of these won’t be ready in time, according to the Italian edition of Motorsport.com.
Furthermore, concerns have been raised about the potential impact the new wing will have.
The Silver Arrows have been struggling to get to grips with the new technical regulations, and the “porpoising” issue caused by the ground effect aerodynamics has been at the centre of their attention.
However, we have learned in recent weeks that the problems run a lot deeper than the wings or the engine or the sidepods.
The Brackley squad were seen making alterations to the rear wings during practice for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix to try and maximise their performance on the straights, but they were unable to find a set-up that could match the pace of Ferrari and Red Bull.
Changing the rear wing or altering the front wing used to make a big difference to performance, but now, as the downforce is generated largely by the floor of the car, these changes appear to have less of an impact.
The Italian edition of Motorsport.com estimates that the wings now account for just 30 percent of the car’s aerodynamic performance.
The main chassis accounts for 10 percent of the load, while the other 60 percent comes from the floor, and therein lies the issue.
It is reported that the Silver Arrows tried to raise the ride height of the car to mitigate the “porpoising” in Jeddah, and tried to resolve the subsequent lack of downforce by increasing the amount of wing they put on the car.
But this does not change the fact that the majority of the downforce comes from the floor, so they can do whatever they want with the sidepods and the wings, but it is unlikely to reduce their sizeable pace deficit to Red Bull and Ferrari.
They have a floor update planned, but as is the case with Red Bull’s weight upgrade, it will not be ready until the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, so we should not expect the Mercedes W13 to run much more competitively in Australia than it has done in the opening two rounds of the year in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.