With two Grand Prix already underway in Formula One, it is clear that Mercedes is lagging behind the current form teams, Ferrari and Red Bull. A delay or, at least, difficulty in extracting the true potential of the car.
And if the engine seems to be part of the equation that puts the Germans at a disadvantage, other explanations are being put forward, in particular by Helmut Marko.
Yes, Mercedes clearly has an engine handicap in Formula One now. The poor performance of its partners, Aston Martin, Williams and Mclaren, is no coincidence. But apart from this factor, the Brackley-based team also suffers from porpoising. More so than other teams. And then, according to Helmut Marko, there is also the problem of fuel. According to the Red Bull Racing’s boss, the change from 5 to 10 percent synthetic fuel was a problem for the reigning constructors’ world champions.
“I don’t know exactly why Mercedes fell behind. It must certainly have something to do with the increase in synthetic fuel from 5 to 10 percent. It wasn’t a piece of cake for us, and not everything is the same. But of course we don’t have that detailed knowledge of the Mercedes.
“However, the logic is that the explanation is fuel related. And of course, when there is such a turnover, first with Andy Cowell and then a good fifty people who have left, the impact is quite normal,” says Helmut Marko.
In addition, the difference made – by Mercedes – in terms of the engine, previously, has suddenly disappeared, due to the new regulations. At least that is Marko’s opinion:
“You have to distinguish between these two cases. The post-2013 era was determined by the new engine regulations, and Mercedes had established an incredible dominance in this area. They were two seconds faster, but obviously didn’t show it. Now, with the chassis changes, the differences are minimal from an engine perspective. Mercedes can no longer push a button and be in party mode.
“But the team is well oiled and also has some very good chassis people. I’m totally convinced they’ll be back if they can get their porpoising under control. And Lewis Hamilton is nine points behind Verstappen, so that’s nothing either. I don’t think it’s the end, but maybe it’s [now] a fight at the same level…”
Mercedes would therefore, according to Marko, still be in the running. We’ll see this weekend in Australia if there’s a breakthrough for the German team and its drivers, or not.