SportF1The other serious problem of the Mercedes W13 in...

The other serious problem of the Mercedes W13 in F1 2022

That season, 2012, the Brackley team was still very much a midfield team and although Nico Rosberg had won the Chinese GP earlier in the year, he and his team-mate Michael Schumacher managed only two podiums during the rest of the course. So missing out on Q3 wasn’t really a big deal.

However, since the hybrid era began, Mercedes had not finished qualifying without reaching Q3 with at least one of its cars. For this reason, George Russell’s 11th place and Lewis Hamilton’s 13th place was a great surprise for everyone within the team.

The main problem for the star team, as Hamilton ‘s messages on the radio reflected, was simply that the car suffered more than usual to warm up its tires in the cold and wet conditions of a session that was constantly interrupted by the appearance of red flags.

While all the teams faced the same challenge, Mercedes was unable to solve a problem that seems to be in the nature of the W13.

“To be honest, we’re having problems warming up with this car,” Mercedes engineering chief Andrew Shovlin said after qualifying.

“We haven’t really gotten to the bottom of it yet. And this Friday was a pretty painful example of that, where we couldn’t put in laps that were good enough to get the temperature in the tyres.

“We’ve seen it since the season started. In Bahrain it wasn’t really a problem, but on the other tracks it’s been a bit difficult. The race pace instead seemed good, I think we showed we were third fastest in stints. long”.

“The problem is that one lap over we seem to be way behind in the middle. And it’s an area that we’re working on, but don’t fully understand yet.”

So is it largely an aerodynamic or a mechanical problem? Shovlin suggested that the answer is not as simple as it seems.

“I don’t think it’s aerodynamic, because we run quite well, we lead the midfield,” he said.

“On a single lap, a lot of the midfield teams are better than us. And we wouldn’t say it’s because they have more downforce than us. And likewise I don’t think it’s a question of kinematics.

“There are things you can do with the specs of the car to try to heat up the brakes a bit more. But that’s a relatively subtle effect. As I said, we don’t know if there’s something else we need to figure out in terms of how we’re setting up the car or how we work to generate heat in the tires”.

“But it’s an area we have to work on, because it keeps holding us back in qualifying.”

Mercedes W13 front brake detail

Using the brakes to control tire temperature has become somewhat more complicated due to the new 18-inch wheels and the different line arrangements they contain.

That, in turn, has made it difficult for Mercedes to tackle the problem, as traditional methods are no longer effective.

“Before you could get the hot air from the brakes directly to the tires,” Shovlin explained. “And with that move you get a very quick transition from the heat from the brakes to the tyres. But now the rules have been designed to make that difficult, and they seem to have served their purpose.”

“Like I said, we still need to understand why we can’t match some of the midfield teams. We know Red Bull and Ferrari have more downforce at the moment than us, but we should be able to perform in qualifying at least as much. position that we have competed in other races, which is realistically fighting to be the third fastest team.”

Shovlin noted that the team had no problems with the wet and intermediate tyres, about which the teams had very limited knowledge before arriving at Imola, beyond a few laps on an artificially wet track in Barcelona testing. Despite the size change, they behave similarly to their predecessors.

“The biggest thing with wet tires is how they perform in a variety of conditions… How do they transition to dry? From the looks of it I think we’re not going to get a good look at that here.”

“But on Friday, with the intermediate conditions, the problem was just the tire temperature, again we were struggling with that. In terms of balance, there is absolutely nothing wrong with these compounds, they are very similar to the previous ones.”

After the session, Hamilton made his frustration clear: “I think we performed very poorly today as a team. There are things we should have done that we didn’t.”

Asked what his driver was referring to, Shovlin said it was probably the way qualifying was run, with Hamilton wanting to do more laps.

“Lewis would have liked to have stayed out longer, he felt the temperature rising when we decided to go back to the pits and fit a new set of tyres.

“So there are two things to look at. One is, could we have done a better job in the first part of the session? Maybe. And the other problem is that we don’t seem to be able to put in a good lap when other teams It turns out to be quite easy”, concluded the one from Mercedes .

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