Mercedes reveal why they’re expecting Hamilton and Russell to struggle in Baku

Mercedes have not won any of the last eight races, and they appear to currently have the third-fastest car.

Mercedes trackside engineer Andrew Shovlin is not altogether optimistic that the Azerbaijan Grand Prix this weekend will yield many more fruits than the Monaco Grand Prix last time out.

Having scored a podium through George Russell in Spain, the Silver Arrows struggled in Monaco as they tried to get the car to work around the slower speed corners and winding streets.

Further, the nature of the Monaco Circuit is unique to just about every circuit on the calendar in that there are copious bumps and potholes, so the German’s side’s bouncing problem made a return.

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This time though, it did not seem as though it was the “porpoising” issue caused by aerodynamic deficiencies, but rather the lower ride height of the new cars posing issues with keeping the floor steady as it ran over the bumps of Monte Carlo.

Russell would eventually end the race in the Principality fifth ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris, while Sir Lewis Hamilton ended up in eighth after getting caught up behind Fernando Alonso’s Alpine.

Shovlin laments the fact that the bouncing and lack of pace in low-speed corners, coupled with the bouncing, conspired to affect the performance of the W13 in Monaco.

“Certainly, it was a lot harder to get the car to work around Monaco than it was in Barcelona,” he explained.

“In Barcelona, we had shown that we had good race pace, even though we know there is still work to do to close the gap to Red Bull and to Ferrari.

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“But the challenge of Monaco is the low-speed nature, it’s a very bumpy circuit and we were struggling with the ride of the car. 

“That was affecting the confidence of the drivers to carry speed and it just meant that we couldn’t run it as close to optimum as we had been able to do in Spain.”

The Baku Street circuit is uncharacteristic in that it has long straights followed by 90-degree corners, but there are still big braking zones with awkward slow turns, so Shovlin is not anticipating much better fortunes there.

“Baku might present some similar challenge,” added the Briton.

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“We are working on areas though to try and improve the ride, try and be able to run the car a bit closer to its optimum window.

“But we are well aware that in addition to adding base performance to the car, we’ve got to make it work over a wider range of circuits. 

“So, these are all things that we are busy with in preparation for Baku but also longer-term because there are other challenging tracks that will come up. 

“But all of those projects are being worked on really hard because the team and the drivers are desperate to get back to the front.”

Mercedes, who remain winless in 2022, sit third in the Constructors’ Championship, over 100 points adrift of Red Bull, who have won all of the last four races through a combination of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.