Mercedes at a lesson from McLaren

F1 – October 6, 2012, Japan. Suzuka Grand Prix. A moment that could say little to most but that instead sanctions a historic event: it is the last F1 GP in which two cars of the Mercedes they would stay out of the Q3. Michael Schumacher thirteenth (later back on the grid to serve a previous penalty) e Nico Rosberg fifteenth they watched from the pits the unfolding of Q3 which ended with the “double” Red Bullwith Sebastian Vettel to close in front of Mark Webber.

Ten seasons, hundreds of GPs to review two Silver Arrows floundering in “Middle-earth” struggling with a car that was born badly and is growing worse. Unable to handle tire temperatures (read to learn more), unable to overcome the chronic disease represented by aerodynamic pumping which constantly decompensates the setup generating compulsively unpredictable behaviors that confuse pilots and technicians, the W13 is certainly the biggest technical disappointment of this 2022 championship.

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Lewis Hamilton in action at Imola, Mercedes AMG F1

In the first three races the team stayed afloat by taking advantage of the opportunities that the track presented. But some alarm bells had already started ringing in Australia when Alpine And McLaren they had given the feeling of being more consistent. This was confirmed in qualifying but which was then overturned in the race with a podium and a fourth place that gave back the smile to the men of Brackley. Yesterday, in the non-qualifying qualifications of the GP of Imolagrays have fallen into a waking nightmare.

Russell eleventh, Hamilton even thirteenth: grim in the face and bad in humor because he was disappointed by a non-gratifying technical parable. What is worse, as we said, is the return of the opponents who enjoy the ever-increasing gap of the W13 from the summit. The asphalt conditions of the Imola track did not help, but this usually happens when the projects are wrong. The rain, the cold, the hostile environment exacerbate the difficulties. It is a kind of unwritten law that today makes fun of those who are used to breathing the pure air of the high ranking.

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Lewis Hamilton “row” with his Mercedes W13

In Mercedes they should ask themselves why only they fought with the tires. And they should begin to explain whether they consider it normal to have identified, according to what they say, the causes of the evils of W13 without taking resolute and decisive actions to correct them. Or at least limit them. There dead line should coincide with Spanish GP. If by that date the car of the award-winning company Allison-Elliott should he still work so hard it is credible to believe this 2022 a year of transition. A return to three decades ago.

Speaking of returns, let’s rewind the tape at winter testing F1 of the Bahrain. From that three days on there was a team to come out with broken bones. We refer to the McLaren that, after a rather convincing Spanish session (so much so that someone put her in the running for the role of queen), had to face a series of problems that mainly affected the braking system that lasted for quite a while.

So much so that the first two races had the bitter taste of the sporting ordeal. The debut is a very sad P14 for Ricciardo “Enriched” by the fifteenth square of Norris. TO Jeddah some slight progress with the British to conquer the first points of the world championship by virtue of a finish in seventh position.

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McLaren MCL36

But the turning point comes in Australia. All ‘Albert Park le MCL36 convince in qualifying, so much so that Norris puts the Mercedes and in the race they close with an encouraging “third row” close to W13. Nothing that can make you cry a miracle, we have to be honest. But the trend ascensional is clear. TO Woking they immediately identified the causes of the problems that caused the temperatures of the brakes to skyrocket with the consequent anomalous management of the tires that were affected by the heat badly dissipated by the incandescent discs.

New brake duct they restored equilibrium to a single-seater that suddenly took over and worked discreetly and above all to make the tires work properly. Yesterday’s qualifying is a shining example of this. While Hamilton And Russell they fought with the tires Pirelli, Ricciardo And Norris enjoyed a means that gave the you to all compoud used since free practice: full wetintermediate and soft.

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the German power unit mounted on the Mercedes W13 “B”

Almost all of a sudden, the MCL36 also managed to extract performance from an engine that someone had hastily rejected.. Top speeds – which are clearly also affected by the aerodynamic configuration – have started to get interesting. Just as interesting begins to be the ability to unload horses on the ground. That is what had seemed a very big flaw in the English team’s project. Evidently a Woking we worked hard to find quick solutions that gave us back verve to the car. The exact opposite of what is happening in Brackley where we go ahead at a crawl.

In the box McLaren, after weeks of long faces, relaxed faces can be seen again. And the statements are the mirror. Lando Norrishappy for the second row, he expressed some regret because he even believed he had the potential to improve: “We still had a lot to gain in the businessI was trying to get the tires up to temperature, but I pushed too hard on the exit lap ”.

It’s a shame – continued the British – maybe there was a chance to attack Leclercbut it’s hard to say because everyone could improve. The car felt very good. I felt safe, it’s a shame it’s over like this but it’s a good position for tomorrow. I’m happy. These conditions allowed us to get this position, but in case of a dry track we would most likely not have finished third“.

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Briton Lando Norris (McLaren) stuck in turn 12

The young Briton is a realist who nevertheless emphasizes his ability to exploit potentially difficult conditions to his advantage. An excellent sign that tells of a car with obviously predictable behavior. The exact opposite of that Mercedes which yesterday showed its endemic defects in a rather sensational way.

Also Ricciardo shows a “fluctuating” mood. The Australian, a good sixth, is disappointed because he knew that the papaya-colored car could express more: “On paper it is a good result but I am bitter. I think everyone in front of me managed to do two laps, while I only did one because of the red flags. With the improvements of the second lap I really think I could have been a lot ahead. But it’s fine. I am happy with our pace and the fact that we are in a good position to take the points. We will be fighting for the rest of the weekend and I can’t wait to do the Sprint. It will be funny“.

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Daniel Ricciardo particularly satisfied after qualifying for the 2022 Imola GP

The two standard bearers of the historic English team express a certain certainty conferred on them by a car that is finally sincere in its behavior. There MCL36 it has “positively regressed”. Let me explain: it is back to being that car that a Barcelona gave excellent feedback. A solid foundation on which to plant update which have the purpose of bringing it close to the top positions. A difficult path, seasoned with pitfalls, but possible with a generation of F1 at the dawn of development. Mercedeson the other hand, it is taking the opposite path.

That car that a Montmelo had offered good discounts in its more conventional version is now a mysterious object that stands out for problems rather than performance. The ranking rewards the men of Brackley who know it is overrepresentative. At this rate, the world champions will be overtaken by the McLaren and risk ending up sucked into the “mix”.

There sprint race today, which should be assisted by the sun and rising temperatures, could allow W13 to express themselves better. What that Russell and Hamilton they wish. Because to go wrong even with favorable conditions would be a blow to the ambitions of growth that Toto Wolff keep waving.


F1 – Author: Diego Catalano@ diegocat1977

Photo: F1TVMercedes AMG F1, McLaren

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