Mercedes have confirmed they will have “new developments” on their cars at the French Grand Prix in the aim of continuing recent progress.
After an alarmingly poor start to the 2022 campaign and its major regulation changes, the eight-time consecutive Constructors’ champions have been gradually eating away at their performance deficit to Red Bull and Ferrari.
There have been seven podium finishes for Mercedes this year, all of them in third position, four for Lewis Hamilton and three for George Russell. But the only time they have genuinely looked like winning a race was when Hamilton challenged the Ferraris for much of the British Grand Prix.
Last time out in Austria, Hamilton and Russell were on the back foot after both crashed in the last part of qualifying, but after the sprint they recovered to finish third and fourth respectively in the race.
However, the steady headway they have been making, coupled with the characteristics of the Paul Ricard circuit, are giving rise to predictions that Mercedes could be in the French GP victory hunt – especially with the team confirming more updates to the car.
💬 “We need to keep chasing those final few tenths and bringing new developments to the cars, including this weekend in France.”
Toto talks on our return to France 👇
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) July 20, 2022
In their preview of the race, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said: “Third and fourth in Austria was a satisfying result for the whole team, particularly given the position we were in on Friday evening. The team worked miracles to have two complete race cars ready for the sprint and grand prix. Twenty seven points on Sunday were a good reward for that effort.
“We scored three podiums in the first seven races and we have now achieved four in the last four. I’m pleased with the momentum we are building and it reflects the mammoth effort of the team. Our understanding of the W13 is growing with every lap and it’s encouraging to see that reflected in our development and results.
“While we were quicker in Austria, we still weren’t quick enough to challenge at the front. We need to keep chasing those final few tenths and bringing new developments to the cars, including this weekend in France.
“Paul Ricard is a very different track and challenge. It has smooth tarmac and a wide range of corner types, along with long straights. The aim will be to make further inroads on the gap to the front and hopefully be back on the podium.”
Mercedes have also announced Hamilton will stand down from FP1 duty in order for Nyck de Vries to fulfil the first requirement of a rookie driver to participate in two free practice sessions this season – a new stipulation introduced for every team.
Where do Mercedes stand right now?
Mercedes have certainly improved over the past few races, but can they challenge at the front again?