Shovlin: Mercedes had to ‘start from scratch’

Frank Parker
George Russell returns to the pits. Silverstone February 2022.

George Russell returns to the pits after his shakedown of the Mercedes W13. Silverstone February 2022.

Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin has stated that the team has had to “start from scratch” going into the new Formula 1 season.

For 2022, F1 is introduced a swathe of technical regulation changes which altered the aerodynamics to a new ground effect concept. The changes have been deployed with the hope of making cars easier to follow and overtake.

The teams have just six days of testing available to them ahead of the new season, with the first three taking part at the Circuit de Barcelona earlier this week.

After a low-key first few days, Mercedes turned up the wick on Friday and topped the timesheets with both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell ending the day in first and second.

Whilst Shovlin believes it has been a successful test for Mercedes, the Briton acknowledges that all teams, including themselves, have had their work cut out to get ready for the first race in Bahrain.

“Overall it’s been quite successful,” said Shovlin speaking on a Mercedes social media video. “You go into three day tests and that’s half of your entire testing before racing.

“With a really big list of objectives [we’re] trying to understand the new aerodynamics on the cars, how the tyres are working, and get the thing balanced as well. It’s so different to what we’ve been working [with] for the last years.

“So, lots of work to do. You never actually get everything ticked off, there’s always more than you can fit in to the three days.

“But we’re pretty happy with where we’ve got to – the car seems to be working well. It’s run reliably which is really encouraging. It seems to be a decent platform to work from. So overall we’re quite satisfied with what we’ve done.

The new regulation changes were originally set to be introduced for the 2021 season, but were delayed by agreement with the teams until 2022, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Regardless of the extra time, Shovlin concedes that they have had to “start from scratch” due to a completely new car concept.

“It’s a big challenge and it’s obviously a challenge that started well over a year ago,” explained Shovlin.

“Where you’re looking at how to understand, how to optimise the regulations, you’re looking for performance in very different areas.

“What we’re doing here is checking that the performance that we thought we developed in the factory windtunnel, and with the suspension design, is that performance translates onto the track.

 

“Also, understanding how to set the car up and get it to the drivers’ liking. And then all that learning that you’ve got to do about how the tyres behave in qualifying, and how they behave in a race.

“So, huge amount to do and this year more than ever, everything that you knew before means very little, it’s a case of start from scratch.”

 

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