Mercedes: Miami promise shows W13 can fight at front of F1 in 2022

Mercedes thinks the Miami Grand Prix weekend has offered a glimpse that the ‘zeropod’ concept can allow it to join the fight at the front of Formula 1 this year.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13

The German car manufacturer brought a range of updates to the Miami event, including a revised front wing endplate and low downforce rear wing package.

Those tweaks helped George Russell top second practice on Friday as the team enjoyed its most competitive day of the campaign so far.

But despite Mercedes’ setup choices for Saturday meaning it slipped down the order, with Lewis Hamilton ending up sixth on the grid, team boss Toto Wolff expressed some optimism about its progress.

And having stood firm so far in its belief that the W13 concept would perform when the team got on top of the bouncing, he remained steadfast that Miami proved the team is right to keep its faith in it.

Asked at what point Mercedes would abandon the idea and switch focus to next year, Wolff said: “We believe that our concept has the potential for us to race at the front. But it is also a sensitive concept.

“Once it’s in the window it can function very well but it’s very difficult to get it in that window, because of the floor, obviously, being much more exposed than the other cars.

“We are still believing in that direction, that it’s right, and we’ll have another set of data [in the race] and in Barcelona which will be good for correlation work from the test with our launch car.

“Then comes the moment where we have to decide what we will do for next year. But it doesn’t work to say you are writing off one season to concentrate on the next, because it’s the same regulations.

“I just think our understanding grows every day, we’ve already said this is another experimental weekend. Yesterday [Friday] was good, today [Saturday] not.”

George Russell, Mercedes W13

George Russell, Mercedes W13

Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images

The team’s form this year has been limited by the extreme porpoising that the W13 has suffered from.

And while it experienced more bouncing on Friday, Wolff said that the setup change that triggered it has helped its understanding in terms of what switches the phenomenon on and off.

“Yesterday [Friday] we had a glimpse of performance from the car if we get it in the right spot,” he said.

“The main thing was, again, managing the porpoising – and that was good yesterday [Friday]. Then we tried something that didn’t seem like a big change and affected the car badly and [put us] all the way back.

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“At the end in qualifying, the drivers suffered again with the bouncing and the bouncing has such an effect on the braking zones and what the tyres are doing, with the consequence that we’re ending up in sixth and 12th.

“The learning is exponentially tough at the moment, but we would have hoped for better.”

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