Mercedes F1 engineer Mike Elliot says the team was at a loss to explain the W13’s drop-off in performance between the Friday practice sessions and the qualifying session on Saturday at the Miami Grand Prix.
The Mercedes Formula 1 team experienced a renaissance during the two Friday practice sessions at the Miami Grand Prix. The team’s new driver Geroge Russell actually managed to top the second practice session in the Sunshine State but the team as a whole failed to capitalize on their upturn in performance with Lewis Hamilton qualifying sixth and Russell dropping down to a lowly 12th during qualifying. While the Mercedes pair recovered during the race, with Russell claiming yet another top-five finish with Hamilton close behind in sixth, the team still can’t pinpoint the exact reason for their drop in pace.
“I think if you look at Friday, it was probably the most competitive we have had so far this season,” Elliot explained to Motorsport-Total.
“Between Friday and Saturday, we made some changes that were actually quite small. But there have also been changes in conditions, and we must go through all this data, draw as much understanding as possible from it and use it to move forward in the next races.”
Mercedes still not giving up on 2022
With five races concluded, Mercedes are firmly the third-fastest team on the grid behind Red Bull and Ferrari. Despite the considerable gap to the front runners, the team is not willing to give up on the W13, with Elliot confirming that the team is taking multiple steps to bridge the current pace deficit.
“I think it’s important to distinguish between two things,” Elliot continued.
“One is the normal upgrade path and the other is to fix the problems we have with hopping and other things that affect performance.
“The wings definitely gave us the performance we expected and were a step forward. The experiments we did on the track to understand bouncing have brought us a lot of data. We collected a lot of data on Friday when we were strong, and also during the race.
“As always, the engineers are working to understand them. Every time we drive the car, we learn something new, and that is the goal of the game, the game is to try to understand the car faster than our competitors.
“There is a lot of effort, a lot of work to understand how we can improve the car, how to find the next small step forward, get rid of hopping and become competitive again.”
With Hamilton previously admitting that his championship bid is over, it will be interesting to see how long Mercedes continue to develop the W13. While the eight-time champions are determined to get to the bottom of the issues plaguing their 2022 challenger, their resources might be better spent on ensuring they are back on track in 2023.