The problem is not Hamilton

It is not the worst start to the season for Mercedes since it returned to Formula 1 in 2010, but it is the poorest in the hybrid Formula 1 that was established in 2014 and who dominated the Silver Arrows, with eight consecutive constructors’ and seven drivers’ world titles. And although Hamilton’s start to the course was worthy, with a podium in Bahrain against all odds, his performances in Arabia and especially Ímola (in Australia only the safety car deprived him of another third place) have been disappointing especially the Emilia Romagna GP. The seven-time champion started 13th and finished 14th, without a single overtake, while Russell climbed back to fourth.

Toto Wolff spoke of an ‘undrivable’ car, but then he specified that it was the same tool for both drivers and that it had caused problems since the beginning of the season. The Mercedes competition director, however, apologizes to Sir Lewis: “I have to protect him, it’s not his bad time, it’s the car’s bad time. We know that he is a seven-time world champion, last year we fought for a title that was lost on Saturday in Brazil. He is the best driver in the world and he doesn’t have a machine or equipment to run it. It doesn’t matter if he finishes 8th, 12th or 15th, it doesn’t matter. Everything is wrong. But it happens to all stars. We are together, through the good and the bad.”

The W13 incorporated evolutions in Ímola that had no apparent effect and more pieces are on the way. Wolff points to the root of all problems, the key that has turned Brackley’s car into a vulgar single-seater that does not come close to Red Bull or Ferrari: “The fundamental flaw that overshadows everything is that the car has more porpoising than the others. Because of that, we can’t take it as low as we should, and that has ramifications on the set-up, the grip of the tires, etc., everything is related and if we were able to solve the ‘porpoising’, we would unlock many more features. If we don’t, there are mainstream developments that we haven’t explored yet. I want us to take some time before deciding.”

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A very aggressive concept

The aggressive sides of the Mercedes, without pontoons, are not in question for now, although since its premiere in Bahrain there have been voices in the paddock questioning its effectiveness. “We think another layout will allow us to drive the car lower, but we couldn’t unlock it because of the car’s bouncing. If we can figure it out, there’s some lap time we can find. If not, we need another idea.” The biggest risk is related to the spending ceiling: with limited resources, you can’t turn the car upside down and prepare a completely new version without affecting other areas. “We haven’t changed the concept, we continue with the narrow body. If we had to do something different, that could go against the spending ceiling,” maintains the Austrian leader. His team is third in the championship with 77 points, to Ferrari’s 124 and Red Bull’s 113. For most teams, that would be a hit. But in Mercedes there was another class of expectations.

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