The next round of the Formula One 2022 championship is in Austria and Mercedes test and simulator driver Anthony Davidson doesn’t believe their W13 car will perform as well as in Silverstone and that inn reality there’s ‘no hope’ of a Hamilton win.
Davidson revealed to Sky’s Craig Slater he knew before Silverstone the W13 would go well and seeHamilton and Russell in the mix with the top teams.
“Well as you know I do the Mercedes simulator work and I was in there during the Silverstone weekend.
“I must say it’s the best the car has felt this year and the closest its felt, more importantly, to last years car. So I did have a strong feeling the car would be much better than its been in recent races.”
I felt Silverstone would suit the car, a nice smooth circuit.”
But the next race at the Red Bull Ring in Austria is unlike Silverstone with its high speed, high load corners where the W13 performed well. The Red Bull car’s straight line speed will still be a factor for Mercedes to overcome with the longish ‘straight’ up the hill from turn one to turn three.
However, Davidson believes the often processional circuit to hold the French GP will favour the W13.
“I think the next one coming up will be Paul Ricard in two races time. The races will come at us thick and fast from now on.
Austria I’m not so sure. They’ve traditionally suffered there in the past compared to the likes of Red Bull.”
Further, there’s a shift coming due to new regulations designed to ‘handicap’ the front running teams and hopefully prevent a run of 8 seasons where one manufacturer runs away with the constructors’ title.
Anthony Davidson observes, “But they’re making inroads to the top two teams and the main thing we have to remember now is that from this point onwards, Mercedes will have 10% more wind tunnel time than Red Bull and 5% more than Ferrari.
“And that’s the complete opposite of how it was up to this point in the season where Red Bull had 5% more time in the wind tunnel than Mercedes and Ferrari had 10% more.
This may be bad news for Ferrari who have squandered much of their advantage due to reliability issues and repeated race strategy mistakes.
“That’s why Ferrari has started this year so strongly,” says Davidson. They’ve exploited their wind tunnel time advantage over Mercedes well.
“Now its going to be very interesting to see, from this point all the way up to this point next year, Mercedes will have that 10% advantage over Red Bull with wind tunnel time.
So hopefully we’ll continue to see this gap close down between the performances of the cars.”
The wind tunnel allocations are based where the teams are placed in the constructors championship, with an incremental 5% allowance for each place a team find’s itself in the championship in July.
This allowance is then baked in for an entire year.
There have been a number of suggestions that Mercedes will abandon their zero side pod car design and move to one more like the Red Bull and Ferrari cars. However, they have clearly been reluctant to do this due to reduced wind tunnel time allowance following their constructors’ championship win in 2021.
Indeed at Silverstone Mercedes technical director Mike Elliott suggested, “We’ve evaluated some of the concepts in that direction. I’m not going to say which way we’re going to go, but we will look at that [Red Bull solution].:
“I think the bodywork, the bit that is visibly different, that you’re referring to [the side pods], is probably not the key differentiator if you’d like. It’s the detail in the floor design.
Yet Elliot admitted, “I think it would be silly not to have a level of humility, and not think you might have got it wrong, and not go and look at what everyone else has done.
“And that’s not just the Red Bull concept. That’s looking at all the concepts up and down the grid and saying what looks interesting and why.”
In the end its unlikely Mercedes will introduce a whole new car concept this season as Elliot alludes.
“Maybe we’ll see changes this year. Maybe we’ll see changes next year. Or maybe we’ll stick with where we are. I think they’re the questions we’re trying to answer,” commented the Mercedes Technical Director.