There was a lot of hype coming into the French GP this weekend that Mercedes would do well, even that Lewis Hamilton could win the race. The W13 runs it’s best on smooth circuits as in Bahrain and Silverstone and the Paul Ricard circuit is one of the smoothest. The team also brought another raft of upgrades though the car demonstrated it’s Achilles heel again out on track.
Team boss Toto Wolff was asked by Sky F1 if he was happy with the first session.
“No not where we want to be. We’re trying lots of parts, we’re just lacking pace at the moment,” replied the Austrian looking downbeat.
“We have a few aerodynamic modifications on the floor – on the side edges – little things that should make it better.
When asked whether he had hoped the car would come here and perform better like in Silverstone, Wolff confirmed the team had been upbeat about the weekend in Paul Ricard.
“Definitely. It’s just early days but the performance in FP1 was a bit underwhelming. We don’t seem to extract enough out of it, so we’re going to do some compares and see what it gives in the afternoon.”
Clearly George Russell and Lewis Hamilton stand in were running the sae parts and setup but with the return of Hamilton in the afternoon the team will configure the cars differently and then compare the relative performance.
The 2022 Mercedes W13 has an Achilles heel as Toto explains.
“Interestingly, we’re still not getting the tyres in the optimum grip window even not in lap 3. We’re going quicker and quicker and clearly the soft should be quick lap 1, there’s something we haven’t quite understood.”
“We’re losing in all corners here against Ferrari and on the straights against Red Bull with them having a lower rear wing, so there’s not an area apart from turn 11 where we’re competitive”
Interestingly the Mercedes cars that won 8 consecutive constructor’s titles when it was weak had the reverse problem. Overheating the tyres when the Ferrari was kinder on its rubber.
It has to be worrying for Mercedes that half way through the season they don’t understand how to manage their tyres in an optimum fashion.
The inability of the W13 to warm its tyres was most evident at the restart towards the end of the Silverstone race, when on fresh soft tyres Hamilton struggled to match LeClercs pace on used mediums.
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