Sir Lewis Hamilton admits that he has not seen any marked improvements pace-wise from Mercedes’ 2022 challenger as they continue to languish behind Red Bull and Ferrari.
The Silver Arrows’ “porpoising” did not seem to be affecting them quite as much as it did in the opening four rounds of the year at the recent Miami Grand Prix, and George Russell appeared to be on the pace of the leaders during Friday practice.
Much to Mercedes’ perplexment, however, the 24-year-old was eliminated from Q2, but Hamilton made it into Q3 as he qualified sixth.
In the end, a Safety Car brought Russell back into play, and he passed the seven-time world champion at the end on fresher and gripper tyres, but a haul of 18 points made for much better viewing than their woeful weekend in Imola last time out.
Hamilton, however, testifies that the Brackley-manufactured car is still struggling for pace, but notes that the bouncing did not feel quite so bad this time.
“We were the same speed as we were in the first race,” he affirmed.
“We’ve just got to keep trying. We have not improved in these five races.
“I’m hopeful that at some stage we will but we have just got to keep trying, keep working hard.
“The porpoising was not as bad in Miami – it can vary from track to track, from race to race. It wasn’t really bad in Miami… but we were just not fast.”
One of the many suggested solutions for Mercedes is to revert to conventional sidepods after they introduced the skinny, almost non-existent ones ahead of the season.
They ran a wider set-up in the first test in Barcelona and, given that the next race will be held there, team boss Toto Wolff sees it as the perfect opportunity to contrast and compare as the eight-time champions seek to improve their performance.
“Barcelona is definitely going to be a point in time when we are able to correlate with what we’ve seen in February and gather more data,” he explained.
“As a matter of fact, we need to understand – before you make a decision to switch to another concept – where did this one go wrong? What is the goodness of the concept and what is the badness of the concept?
“That is a question you can only respond to yourself, but I would be asking ourselves to get an answer after Barcelona because that’s the real correlation we have. It’s clear that there is potential in the car, which is fast. But we just don’t understand how to unlock the potential.”
Mercedes now find themselves 62 points adrift of leaders Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship.