Verstappen, Sainz expect Mercedes back in the mix

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz smiling. Bahrain March 2022

Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz smiling with a cameraman in the background. Bahrain March 2022

With their extreme porpoising Max Verstappen says it is “like a hit and miss” for Mercedes but is convinced it is only a matter of time before they are back in the fight.

Mercedes went into the 2022 season downplaying their prospects, both Lewis Hamilton and his new team-mate George Russell adamant their W13 was not the car to beat.

Turns out they weren’t bluffing.

While Verstappen and the Ferrari drivers fought for pole position in Bahrain, Hamilton qualifying down in sixth place, 0.680s slower than pole-sitter Charles Leclerc, while Russell was ninth.

Mercedes’ biggest problem is the “out of control” porpoising that the W13 suffers, the car bouncing badly on the straights.

However, such is the might of Mercedes, Formula 1’s dominant team over the past eight years, that rivals believe it is only a matter of time before they are back in the fight.

“You can clearly see of, course, the bouncing they have,” Verstappen said. “I think the car is not so easy to drive. So also for them, it seems a bit like a hit and miss.

“Like sometimes it can do a decent lap and sometimes it’s a bit more difficult to nail the balance. So yeah, I think they just need to figure out a few things.

“But I think if they can figure out that package can be really quick.

“Of course, it’s nice to be ahead now but I also know from last year, how quickly they can develop a car. And actually, at one point, it was very difficult to beat that car.

“So, things can change really quickly and especially with new regulations as well. You know, I think there’s still a lot of unknown areas in the car where you suddenly can find a lot of performance.

“So yeah, it’s good for now, from our side, but I expect them for sure to work very hard and try to close that gap.”

Verstappen will line up P2 on the Sakhir Grand Prix grid, the Red Bull driver splitting the Ferraris in qualifying with Sainz P3.


The Spaniard has also backed Mercedes to come good.

“Yeah, I think yeah, they will be back,” he said. “I think Mercedes have been known also, not only for starting strongly, but mainly for finishing strong in the last few seasons.

“And maybe they’ve been… for sure, they’ve been honest and it is true they have been struggling because they were not in the fight for pole. And it’s a surprise to see.

“But at the same time, I strongly believe that they will get themselves back in the mix. They are a great team, and they will be back fighting with us.

“So, we need to keep an eye on them and keep fighting with our development because this year, their rate of development is going to be huge.”


Are the zero-pods behind Mercedes’ troubles

Damon Hill thinks that Mercedes' sidepod concept is causing them problems.