Mercedes: It’s not just the air gaps – Formula 1

Mercedes has been the hardest team to explain since the start of the year. In the early stages of the season, W13 showed a clear lack of performance, only to be the protagonist Big leaps in competitiveness from one track to another In the second half of the tournament. Starting in July, the Silver Arrows established themselves as a third power with increasing steadiness, gradually approaching the leading duo, to the point of taking center stage and striving for victory in the Netherlands. From the statements of the pilots and technical representatives of the team, there is a growing awareness of the limits of the W13, which is an encouraging sign in light of Project 2023.

While Red Bull and Ferrari were intermittently slowed down due to balance issues during the tournament, On the other hand, Mercedes seems to lack pure performance. At Thursday’s press conference in Zandvoort, George Russell pointed out some of W13’s many shortcomings: “We need to find more downforce and maybe make our car a little more [aerodinamicamente] effective.” Therefore, it is essential for Mercedes to improve overall aerodynamics, increase downforce and reduce drag, although important steps have been taken at the last front since the start of the season thanks to the development of new rear wings.

However, the silver stock’s limitations go beyond the aerodynamic appearance alone. Team representatives have indicated on several occasions The difficulty of the team getting the car into the correct tire operation window, especially in the plane lap. Listening to the qualified radio teams of Hamilton and Russell, the obsessive interest by their engineers in constantly calibrating the speed to perform the setup cycle emerges, precisely because of the difficulty of sufficiently warming up the tires without overtaking the opposite end. This gap is attributed to two factors, the first of which is the level of aerodynamic load of the single seat on which the vertical energy transmitted to the tires depends. In Italy, technical director Andrew Scheufelin stressed how much the W13 struggles on low-load tracks like Spa and Monza: “We expected the Monza track to be tough for us. We wish it wasn’t as tricky as the spa, but We believe that jumps in performance mainly depend on the change in loading level from one path to another.

At the same time, and on certain tracks, Stella technicians can easily find the optimal single-seat compromise, thus reaching the correct operating window. This happens on tracks with low speed dispersion and curve types, where the setting can give more priority to certain aspects without having to focus on different dynamics. Above all, it becomes easier to match the mechanical behavior of the W13, which prevails at low mileage, with the aerodynamic behavior that takes precedence at higher speeds. Hence, on Zandvoort, a track where aerodynamic efficiency is not a priority, where its higher load speeds up tire temperatures and where the relative smoothing of curves makes it easier to look for setup, Mercedes had its best weekend of the season.

From this point of view, the description of Zandvoort pretty much matches that of Singapore, the next stage in the world championships. However, Russell points out another factor that could hinder W13: “On paper, Singapore should fit our car better. But when we look at the citizens of Munich and Baku, Our car didn’t perform well on rough roads. The unstable Mercedes on the asphalt has been a recurring theme all season. Several clues that emerged during the championship indicate that Silver Arrows suffer or have suffered from aerodynamic instability, with strong load differences caused by cars over bumps and destabilization of the aerodynamic platform. However, the concern for citizens like Singapore, where low mileage limits the aerodynamic forces in play, suggests that the problem may be of a mechanical nature as well.

2022 organizational change for him Compared with the past, it is forbidden to use certain components in the internal suspension unit, such as proprietary, acceleration-sensitive valves and hydraulic shock absorber control, not to be confused with an active suspension. In general, significant degrees of freedom and external acceleration response tools for suspension calibration have disappeared, making it more complex to separate the different mechanical and aerodynamic stability needs of a vehicle. Shovelin’s words can also refer to this, i.e. the difficulty of engineers in adapting the mechanical setup to compensate for the low level of load imposed by certain tracks. The technical narrative of the tournament focused mainly on the aerodynamic interpretation of the new organization by the teams, but Correct mechanical philosophy of the suspension It was just as important.

Compared to the first half of the year, what is positive for Mercedes is the awareness finally reached of criticism of the W13 and the path to follow for 2023. A mirror image of last spring, where trials and strides followed each other in the team alternating forward with others lagging behind. general confusion Moreover, the fact that, according to Toto Wolff, the team has postponed chassis and suspension options for next year’s car, suggests that the team wants to capitalize on every lesson it learned in the disappointing W13.

FP | Carlo Platilla

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