Sky F1’s Anthony Davidson offers his insight on Mercedes, who are on the back foot heading into the Australian GP with ‘porpoising’ issues and a huge lack of pace compared to Ferrari and Red Bull; watch all the action from Melbourne on Sky Sports F1 this weekend During an unprecedented eight-year streak of Formula 1 titles, Mercedes crushed their competition and were scarcely not in contention for a
Victory in any of the 160 races from 2014 through to the end of the 2021. While a new era of F1 for 2022 brought much-changed cars and rules, it was that dominance which made them the clear favourites for this year. But the two thrilling races to start the new season have had a notable, almost unthinkable, silver absentee from the front, while Mercedes and
Lewis Hamilton have already endured a humiliating Q1 exit in qualifying and already admit they are “a long way off” rivals Ferrari and Red Bull. Mercedes are well and truly on the back foot heading into the Australian GP, and Sky Sports F1’s Anthony Davidson has given his insight on their issues so far, drivers’ concerns, and whether there is a quick fix…
For Mercedes, the troubles were already evident before 2022’s first race. After a steady first test in Barcelona, Mercedes turned heads ahead of the second test in Bahrain with a spectacularly sleek new design for their W13 car, which many – even most in the paddock – expected would see a team who have so much history in acing new regulations find instant speed. But as Anthony, who is a simulator driver for the world champions, notes:
“I could see on track already in Bahrain that it didn’t quite look like the car that I knew in the simulator. “That was already ringing a few alarm bells with me.” And why’s that? Mercedes have had more issues than most with the ‘porpoising’ phenomenon seen this year when the car violently bounces on its suspension at high speed. Not shown in the simulator, this caught Mercedes completely off guard, and they believe it is the source of 99 per cent of their problems.
While all teams have experienced this in some regard to start the new year, Red Bull and to a lesser extent Ferrari have got on top of it and Mercedes were often a second a lap off those cars at the last race in Saudi Arabia. Aim for more top speed? The W13 bounces away. Run the car lower and get more performance? This increases the issue. Mercedes therefore are having to run the car higher to mitigate the porpoising, sacrificing speed.