Mercedes have admitted they suffered a “kick in the teeth” with the W13, just when it looked like their worst problems were behind them.
After a start to the 2022 season that was shocking by their sky-high standards, the eight-time consecutive Constructors’ champions suddenly looked to be right back in the game at the Spanish Grand Prix.
From the low point of being knocked out in Q1 purely on pace at the Saudi Arabian GP, Lewis Hamilton produced a storming drive back up through the field in Barcelona after an early collision with Kevin Magnussen – to finish fifth, two places behind his team-mate George Russell.
Those results were helped by an upgrade package Mercedes rolled out for Spain – but which failed to produce dividends at the next two races on street circuits in Monaco and Azerbaijan where, especially at the latter-named venue, the W13’s porpoising was seen to worst effect.
An underlying problem remains and, says Mercedes technical director Mike Elliott, will need to be resolved during the winter if the team are to have a stronger 2023 campaign, still seeking a first victory of this term.
“That was a nice move!” 💙❤️
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) October 10, 2022
“The issues we’ve built into the car we couldn’t see because of the bouncing,” said Elliott, quoted by Motorsport.com.
“The bouncing was just dominating everything. And once we’d got on top of that in Barcelona – we got a package that made quite a substantial difference there – we thought ‘we’re in, we’re going in the right direction’, and then got a proper kick in the teeth in the next two races.
“You peel the next layer off the onion, if you like, and you’ve got another problem. That was the one we’d really baked into the car in the winter.
“Since then, we’ve brought various steps to try and move us in the right direction, but to really undo that will take the winter.”
Mercedes were not helped by the inability to test the car in-season, reducing the opportunity to run any experiments to try and alleviate their problems on track.
“You’ve got very little testing time because you’ve only got an hour on a Friday morning, an hour on a Friday afternoon and then you really need to be working on the race weekend,” added Elliott.
“That does then take some time to learn. At the same time, you look at the factory approach. We’d discovered, probably after Baku time, there is clearly another problem.
“We went back through the data, through our simulations and found what we had found. Then from there, you’ve got a limited amount of time.
“The issue is an aerodynamic one and it just takes time to get on top of it.”