Mercedes worried: Not in our normal form

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton leads Charles Leclerc down the pit lane in testing. Barcelona February 2022

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton leads the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc down the pit lane in testing. Barcelona February 2022

A week before the Formula 1 season begins and Mercedes are concerned that they are “not in our normal form”, and neither are Red Bull.

Last year’s championship protagonists have found themselves second best to Ferrari during this pre-season.

The Scuderia’s F1-75 has been widely praised by pundits and rivals, but of course the latter is often just part of the mind games teams like to play.

Given that none of the teams know the others’ programmes or fuel loads, pre-season testing times don’t given an honest assessment of what is really going on.

Mercedes, though, seem to be worried about what they’ve seen so far.

“Red Bull and us are in the same boat, we are not in our normal form,” a Mercedes engineer told Auto Motor und Sport.

“If there was a race on Sunday, Ferrari would win by a clear margin.”

But that’s not Mercedes’ only cause for concern.

The Brackley squad, who have romped to a run of eight Constructors’ Championship and have won seven of the last eight World titles, fear those behind have also closed right up.

“The alarming thing is that the other teams are right behind us,” the unnamed engineer added.

Part of the problem that Mercedes are facing is that while their W13 is extremely fast in slow corners, it loses time in the fast ones. Red Bull’s problem is said to be the other way around.

And then there is porpoising.

In a pre-season where porpoising is the buzz word, AMuS claims that Ferrari have ‘come the furthest’ in the search for a solution.

The phenomenon of porpoising is proving more complicated than the teams expected as it is difficult to reproduce in the wind tunnel.

That means the teams have had a mere six days of track time to resolve the issue, and do so while also carrying out their usual pre-season work load.

As one observer put it: “Maybe the Ferrari isn’t the fastest car in the field. But it’s the car that’s easiest to drive at the moment. And that brings the lap time.”

Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff conceded of the W13: “We’re up and down with the ground clearance, but the car jumps like a billy goat.”


With all the uncertainty surrounding the cars, Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko says Formula 1 may not have a clue about the true pecking order until after race four, the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

“This year it may take three to four races before we know who has the fastest car,” he said.