The row over the current F1 car design regulations continues as Mercedes seek to overturn the general direction of car design for the next 3 years. Toto Wolff was reported to have “lost his shit” in a meeting with other team bosses who refused to back his agenda for car design regulation reform.
The 2022 Mercedes W13 car has been at times ugly to drive. The team believed they had a unique approach to the new regulations which would see their car dominate for another season.
The reality has been quite different.
This has led to increasing discontent from Mercedes and their drivers over the new design regulations, though they claim their dispute is for driver safety reasons.
Of course team Mercedes have been on point and George Russell has dutifully called on the FIA repeatedly to ‘look again’ at the regulations on the grounds of driver safety.
Following a disastrous Friday practice at the 2022 Canadian GP, Hamilton described his car as “undriveable” and “the worst car I’ve ever had”.
Yet fortuitously Saturday revolutionised Hamilton and Mercedes fortunes. A sever storm engulfed the track for much of practice three and qualifying.
This meant the dry running characteristics of the 2022 W13 car were disguised and the result was Lewis Hamilton achieved a starting position for the race of P4.
Yet Sunday was a warm dry day. The question was, what kind of Mercedes car would turn up for the race?
The team took the decision to set up Hamilton’s car as they had Russell’s on Friday, given the ex world champion had been running an experimental setup that saw him just P13 in practice 2.
Gone was the extreme bouncing and Hamilton was able to match the pace of Alonso ahead of him for several laps after the start.
Poor strategy from Alpine saw Hamilton easily pass Alonso and the result saw Hamilton finish P3 on the podium.
When asked by Jenson Button how his back was following the race, Lewis replied “It’s fine, I feel young again”.
Hamilton had earlier in the weekend called into question his fellow drivers’ integrity over their opinions on the ‘bouncing’ and the new FIA car design regulations stating,
“Obviously in front of you, it’s one thing, and another in the background, sometimes people say different things,” Hamilton suggested after Verstappen made it clear he opposed the FIA’s mid-season technical directive.
On message, lewis again returned to the saga despite finishing on the podium with a third place finish behind Verstappen.
When asked about Mercedes’ chances for the upcoming British Grand Prix at Silverstone Hamilton said: “I think we’re better in the medium and high-speed corners than we are in the low-speed corners, but we have bouncing so I don’t know how it’s going to be through Copse and all those places.”
Hamilton added somewhat unnecessarily, “Max doesn’t know what I’m talking about but I know Carlos knows what I’m saying, so it will be interesting for us there. I’m really excited to get back to the UK, the weather is incredible right now so I hope it’s the same.”
Clearly Lewis believes Max is ‘ignorant’ of his plight
The issue has clearly become a Mercedes polemic. Given the positivity of Hamilton’s second podium in 9 races and only the second race in 2022 he’s finished ahead of Russell – was it really necessary for him to sing the party tune?
The problem for Hamilton and Mercedes is that the FIA and the Commercial Rights holders are determined to deliver better racing where the cars can follow more closely – and these ground effect car design regulations are delivering that.
This is great for Formula One which saw a drought of diversity as Mercedes dominated for 8 years.
So the complaints of Toto, Lewis and George will ultimately fall on deaf ears.
As Christian Horner said this weekend, they really need to “sort their own house out” and design a better car.