Mercedes trackside engineer director Andrew Shovlin says the team entered the 2022 Formula 1 season “overly optimistic” about their chances.
The Silver Arrows have yet to win a race so far this season, as the W13’s radical design has proven tricky to come to grips with.
Mercedes debuted an almost sidepod-less design before testing in Bahrain, however a lack of handling, balance and porpoising issues throughout the campaign has seen them fail to match the pace and results of Red Bull and Ferrari.
Although the team have shown improvement as the season has progressed, Shovlin indicated they still aren’t where they’d like to be.
“It has been a very interesting journey,” Shovlin said. “I think we were overly optimistic in where we thought we could run the car.
“The car that we launched had a lot of downforce close to the ground, and there were a lot of issues being able to actually run the car on track there.
“We’re not where we would like to be, but the direction of travel looks okay. So we’re working very hard to try and improve that.”
Where Mercedes excel
Despite looking well off the pace of Red Bull and Ferrari at certain tracks, Mercedes find themselves just 35 points back of the Scuderia in the Constructors’ standings with six races remaining.
Shovlin says that weekend’s like Spa, where the Silver Arrows struggled due to the low downforce requirements of the track, have actually helped them identify where they must improve.
“Spa was quite interesting,” Shovlin added. “It was quite painful at the time, but we’ve often said that our worst weekends are the ones that reward us with the most learning.
“The learning that we took from that does give us an indication of where we need to develop the car in future.
“At Zandvoort, we were expecting to be more competitive, so it was reassuring that it played out.
“The underlying problem is sort of rooted in how we’ve developed the car and how it’s working as an aerodynamic package.”