Mercedes ‘working hard’ on key weakness set to be tested once more in Melbourne

Sam Cooper
Mercedes' W15

Mercedes were notably slow in Jeddah’s high-speed corners.

Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said the team is “working hard” to improve on a key area of concern, high-speed corners.

The Jeddah circuit demonstrated that not only were Mercedes’ rivals ahead in high-speed corners but even the Alpine car was better, showing clearly where the Silver Arrows must improve if they hope to win races.

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One of the Mercedes staff charged with trying to fix that issue is Andrew ‘Shov’ Shovlin who explained just why the W15 was so poor in the high-speed corners.

“It’s a few things,” he said. “One of them was the balance wasn’t great. So those very fast corners, the walls aren’t particularly far away. So the ones where the driver wants a lot of confidence, and quite often we were snapping to oversteer if they really leant on the tyres. And that… you can easily imagine how unsettling that is for the drivers.

“Now, that was a factor in qualifying and the race. In qualifying we were also suffering a bit with the bouncing. Now that was less of a problem in the race. There’s more fuel on the car. You’re going a bit slower. And that seemed to calm down and wasn’t such an issue. And then the big one is we don’t really have enough grip there.”

But, while the Melbourne circuit is less rapid than Jeddah, Shovlin said they were still “working hard” to improve this weakness before the upcoming Australian Grand Prix, as Albert Park has “similar nature of corners” as the Jeddah Corniche Circuit. recommends

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“So that’s one of the things that we are working hard on this week because Melbourne has similar nature of corners,” he said. “So we’re doing a lot of work to try and understand why did we not seem to have the grip of some of our close competitors.”

Two races in, Mercedes will have a lot of data to use in terms of improving their car and Shovlin said they have many departments focused on improvements for Melbourne.

“There’s definitely data that we’re picking through from Jeddah,” the 50-year-old said. “We’re also looking at data from [the] Bahrain race, Bahrain test and we will come up with a plan for how we approach free practice in Melbourne. But it’s not just based on what we did in Jeddah.

“There’s a lot of work going on within aerodynamics department, vehicle dynamics department. We’re trying to design some experiments there that will hopefully give us a direction that’s good for performance.”

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