Mercedes F1 Performance Remains Elusive

Few Formula 1 seasons have seen so much focus on the negatives of one manufacturer’s performance as this one. It should come a no surprise that it should be so either, as Mercedes, the Constructors champions for the last eight years, continue to flounder.

With Lewis Hamilton telling the world he isn’t in the race to be world champion, team boss Toto Wolff apologising and more porpoising than an aquarium, the story has run and run.

Like any precision engineering company, the technical team at the reigning champions have been working night and day to try to resolve the issues. A raft of changes were made before the Miami Grand Prix, but the result was one of ultimate frustration; George Russell achieved the fastest time in second qualifying, yet in the race itself Hamilton and Russell struggled again.

As the F1 website explained, the changes in question saw three significant alterations being made before Miami. The first two were connected with low downforce, with a new rear wing and a matching beam wing. The former came with a smaller mainplane and straight leading edge and the beam wing also had a smaller upper element.

In doing so, the idea was to reduce drag, even if at the expense of maximising the downforce.

The other element was the front wing endplate, which had been redesigned to create more outwash and thus a clearer airflow to the underfloor and sidepods. 

With the latter aimed at enhancing general performance and the other two reducing drag, this did not represent a potential solution to the porpoising issue. Nonetheless, the real frustration will be that after Russell appeared to have made it work in practice, the struggle was as real as ever on race day.

Speaking to the Daily Express this week, Aston Martin reserve driver Nicol Hulkenberg said it was “pretty obvious” things had gone awry at Mercedes. However, he backed the “smart” team to find a solution, commenting: “I think they will sooner or later figure out and manage a way out of it and come back to the front.”

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