F1 – Having few but confused ideas. If we wanted to be cynical – and a little bad – this could be the photograph of the moment that passes through the Mercedes. The reigning world champions were the protagonists of a fairly subdued start to the season compared to the standards they were used to and which we were almost addicted to.
A podium obtained in the inaugural GP of Bahrain the result of chance and the tenacity of Lewis Hamilton that, in the subsequent appointment of Jeddahgot lost in set-up problems partially solved in a race in which the pit wall was not quick to read the Virtual Safety Car nullifying a nice comeback that could bring him close to George Russell wisely kept away from searching for strange setup paths to try to extract a few hundredths of a second from a whimsical W13.
The feeling is that among men of Brackley there is a certain turmoil. Strategic and technical. The porpoising that afflicts the creature of Mike Elliott and James Allison has displaced everyone and a way out, at the moment, has not yet been mapped out (read the in-depth technical information here). Not that a Brackley are sleeping peacefully with the pacifier in their mouth.
Engineers are trying to find a solution that is hard to define but that could come soon. As long as we manage to clear the fog around a project that was supposed to be revolutionary and annihilating but which, indeed, is killing the ambitions of success of the same men of the Three Pointed Star.
Andrew Shovlin, trackside engineer of the Anglo-German team, in the usual post-race analysis appointment, expressed a concept that describes the lack of certainty of a team used to having it. The technician has normally pointed out that the aerodynamic pumping is the constraint on the unfolding of the potential of this machine. The question is that Mercedes do not know, or have not yet understood, if the car is fast enough, net of the annoying phenomenon that limits it in all the crucial phases of the lap.: acceleration, braking, cornering and the ability to develop speed on straight lines.
Put like this, the signs are not very encouraging because, once the porpoising, the cold shower may arrive. That is, that the W13 it is not a useful tool to unhinge the technical domain that Ferrari And Red Bull are showing off easily at this stage of the championship. Before discovering the true potential of the machine, the pumping problem must be solved. There are a couple of factory-made routes that seem to be starting to give some good answers.
The real problem is time. Other teams have overcome their difficulties with enviable diligence. Think ofAlfa Romeo that in two weeks he fixed the C42 that hasn’t proved, in terms of performance, that far from the silver creature. In Mercedes they are all trying – and perhaps more – to overcome the evil that grips the car trying, at the same time, not to neglect its normal development. A fact that, of course, becomes damned complex because it is difficult to work thinking that you have fixed something that, in a rather mocking way, continues to present the bill as soon as you go back to biting the asphalt.
The W13 does not generate enough downforce. A truth born of the endemic hopping of the machine. To contain it, the suspension must be stiffened and the car body raised. Hence, it is difficult to unload the horses on the ground, to manage medium and fast curves and to brake. A mix of grits combined with a related drag effect which makes it develop top speeds worthy of a truck.
TO Sakhiron the occasion of the first race and strengthened by the data acquired in the three days of testing that preceded it, the engineers had brought a new fund that was to be the beginning of the turning point: removed after FP1 and put to gather dust in some attic of Brackley. Shovlin he admitted that, after that unexpected rejection, it was decided to be more aggressive in addressing the issue. Something that, a Jeddahhas compromised the structure of the W13 no.44 who finished with a very sad sixteenth place in qualifying. Symptom of overt and unappealable confusion.
Despite this, the reigning champions do not lose optimism. Information collected says that finally positive elements begin to flow from the simulators that seem to suggest that the light at the end of the tunnel is not so far away. Obviously, we must not think that we have promptly understood the problem because we would risk replicating the mistake made with the new floor tested in Bahrain. The next races will be crucial because the solutions that are starting to make people smile at the factory will be tested on the track.
The Mercedes will he be able to re-enter the title fight? A million dollar question that, of course, we have no answer to. In this climate of uncertainty there is only one constant: a Barcelonawhen the upgrade package based on several steps is completed, we will see the true potential of one F1 finally cleansed by aerodynamic pumping. It is only on that date that we will have the answer to the fateful question.
F1-Author: Diego Catalano – @ diegocat1977
Photo: F1, Mercedes AMG F1, Albert Fabrega