In Spain, the talk of the paddock has all been about whether the Mercedes upgrades tested earlier this week in Paul Ricard would put them back in the hunt for race wins and even titles. Lewis Hamilton and George Russell both appear delighted that the car is more stable in a straight line and both drivers made the top 6 in qualifying. But the reality could well be that they’re still in trouble.
This is indeed a huge improvement on Qualifying in Saudi Arabia where Hamilton missed the top 10 shootout and Miami when Russell failed to make Q3. Then there was Imola where neither Mercedes made it through to the final part of qualifying, but have Mercedes really closed the gap to the front runners?
The qualifying at the Circuit de Catalunya saw the team from Brackley finish closed to the pole position time than in any other race this season with the gap from Russell to LeClerc 0.643 seconds.
Saudi Arabia saw the nearest Mercedes 0.904 seconds back and the gap was similar in Australia. Miami was a little better with Hamilton managing a time 0.829 slower than the lead Ferrari, but at the start of the season after testing in Bahrain the W13 was in fact much closer.
Bahrain saw the closest Mercedes just 0.67 seconds behind the pole sitter, so in reality, the much vaunted performance in Barcelona was an improvement of just 4% on their efforts at the start of the season.
Worthy of note, Mercedes best qualifying has been at circuits where they extensively tested the W13 pre season.
The question is how will it perform where their data is scant at the start of the GP weekend?