How Mercedes have unlocked pace from the W12

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton Mercedes win

Lewis Hamilton Mercedes win

Andrew Shovlin says Mercedes’ improved speed is not down to one thing, but a lot of “really hard work and fine-tuning” of the W12 and its power unit.

Mercedes walked away from pre-season testing concerned about the pace of their 2021 car with Red Bull having emerged as the team to beat.

That story continued into the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, although Lewis Hamilton managed to pull off the win ahead of Max Verstappen.

Three races later and Mercedes appears to have resumed their traditional position as the favourites, the team having recovered a lot of their lost pace.

Last time out in Spain, Hamilton became the first driver to this season to convert a pole position into a race win.

The team is leading both championships with Hamilton’s three wins putting him 14 points ahead of Verstappen with Mercedes leading the Constructors’ Championship by 29 points ahead of Red Bull.

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“How did we find so much pace in a few weeks?” said Shovlin, Mercedes trackside engineering director.

“Well, it’s fair to say that following the Bahrain test we were struggling a bit with the car. We hadn’t got it into a good window.

“The drivers were talking about how they didn’t have the confidence to carry the speed into the corners, the car wouldn’t even turn well into the corners, it was difficult to get it round some of the tight corners there and we were losing time.

“And then also the rear end was struggling when we got on the power, it was quite oversteery, so we had a lot to put right.

“Now, there was a great deal of work back here in Brackley and also in Brixworth on the Power Unit side, because we could see a few things in terms of the handling of the car that wasn’t where we wanted it to be, and equally on the Power Unit side, there were a few areas that we could improve there in terms of the delivery of that power.

“So, most of it was really hard work and finetuning, we had numerous session in the simulator trying to get everything in the right window, and when we went back to Bahrain, while we weren’t the quickest, that was clearly Red Bull and we saw that in qualifying, but we did have a car in a place where we could actually compete with them.

“We had improved the long runs significantly and that was really the thing that allowed us to win that first race in Bahrain. We also had an update kit on the car in Imola and we are looking for small improvements really, there is so little between us and Red Bull that every few milliseconds we are chasing after.

“So, in summary it isn’t one thing, a bit of it is performance that we are bolting on with upgrades but a lot of it was really just understanding the issues and getting the car into a good place and allowing the drivers to have a car that they have confidence in and they can push to the limits and we are going to keep doing that because I am sure there is more to come.”

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