Martin Brundle shares concerning Mercedes W15 observation from Australian Grand Prix

Michelle Foster
The Mercedes W15 with its star decal

The Mercedes W15.

Martin Brundle says for the third year running, Mercedes “haven’t hit the sweet spot” with the former F1 driver noting the W15 is the “most difficult” car to drive.

Neither Lewis Hamilton nor George Russell scored a single point at the Australian Grand Prix, leaving Mercedes fourth in the Constructors’ Championship where they are 71 points behind Red Bull.

Mercedes W15 is ‘perhaps the most difficult to drive’

The double DNF capped an inconsistent weekend, especially on Hamilton’s side of the garage with the seven-time World Champion bemoaning the car after finishing 18th in Friday’s practice.

Hamilton called it “one of the worst sessions” he’d suffered in a long time, adding: “I feel the least confident I’ve ever felt with this car.”

But with Mercedes making major set-up changes ahead of Saturday’s running, he felt in FP3 that the car was “great” only to be knocked out of qualifying in Q2 when he was 11th on the timesheet. “Just another inconsistency within the car, it really messes with the mind,” he lamented to Sky Sports.

His weekend went from bad to worse as Hamilton retired with an engine failure while fighting for minor points in the Grand Prix, later speaking about how his W15 had gone from a car that was poor in the high-speed corners to one that struggled in the low-speed.

“We didn’t look terrible in the high-speed [corners] but we’re slow in the low-speed this weekend, whereas in the last race, we were bad in the high-speed, good in the lower stuff. A real struggle this weekend,” he said.

It was a struggle that Brundle observed while standing trackside.

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“When I was out on track on Friday it appeared to me that Lewis Hamilton’s Merc was perhaps the most difficult to drive,” he wrote in his Sky Sports column.

“Through the high-speed chicane which makes up Turns One and Two, the car was all over the place.

“For the third consecutive season, they haven’t hit the sweet spot with this era of ground-effect cars, and then can’t seem to contain the unpredictability of performance thereafter.

“Team boss Toto Wolff always has elegant words and phrases to move the story on and refocus for the next race or season, but it must be wearing very thin for him to see the lack of progress.

“And as often happens in such circumstances, reliability also went out of the window with a bang for Hamilton’s power unit.”

Toto Wolff reveals correlation issues

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff was at pains to point out the progress Mercedes had made with the W15, adamant they eradicated “many” issues with the new car.

However, when it comes to what they’re seeing in the wind tunnel and what they’re experiencing on the track, there’s a disconnect.

“When I look at the positives, and that is we took many potential root causes out of the equation, we went through about our suspension, we weren’t sure about the stiffness of our gearbox carrier, we had a vibrating steering rack, and all of those things have disappeared.

“But fundamentally, whatever we see in the tunnel doesn’t correlate with what’s happening on the track.

“And it is not a single person that says ‘I would interpret that data in this way and because of dogmatism we’re not making any progress’.

“I don’t see dogmatism, and I just see an open environment where people share, where people where people take themselves by the nose and say, ‘you know, maybe in my area we were making mistakes’.

“I don’t think we’re missing something, it is just a complication of what’s happening with the car that we can’t see. And, it’s like an on-off switch.

“And then you see the progress that McLaren and Ferrari have made – and this is the difference between last year and this year, this was a pretty good weekend for us last year.

“So you know, we got to really dig deep because this is brutally painful.”

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