Mercedes: Shock of F1 2022 struggles has done team "no harm"

Mercedes is convinced that the shock it experienced from its Formula 1 struggles this year has done the team "no harm" in the long term.

Mercedes: Shock of F1 2022 struggles has done team "no harm"

After dominating F1’s turbo hybrid era since 2014, Mercedes has yet to win a race so far in 2022 after not having an easy time getting on top of its W13 car.

It spent months trying to tame the extreme porpoising that was hampering progress for Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, but has recently enjoyed an uplift in form after finally opening up a positive development direction.

PLUS: Why Spa can reveal the most about Mercedes’ powers of resurrection

The Brackley-based squad admits that the start of the year was tough to deal with but, like other troubled moments it has had in the past and bounced back from – like Singapore 2015 – the team sees value in such times.

Mercedes’ head of trackside engineering Andrew Shovlin told Autosport the team has a mentality of thriving from problem solving, even if things have been difficult on occasion.

“It is enjoyable to have a very different challenge,” he said. “There were certainly parts early in the year that weren't enjoyable, and that within the team were quite stressful and more than we would have asked for.

“But actually, engineers like having problems to solve. And there were also periods where we were dominant, and we didn't really have any close competition, that it did become a bit dull and a bit predictable.

“So all these challenges are actually what help stretch you. At the moment we have got a good development rate.

“And if we can develop our way back to the front, I think the team will get its confidence back. But so far this year, it has just been a case of rebuilding the confidence of a team that was very strong and that has had a bit of a shock. So it's been a difficult but good challenge for us.”

George Russell, Mercedes W13, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13

George Russell, Mercedes W13, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13

Photo by: Drew Gibson / Motorsport Images

Shovlin concurs that the way Mercedes bounced back from its Singapore slump in 2015 to win at the Marina Bay circuit a year later is the kind of turnaround the team hopes to repeat.

“You talk about dips like Singapore and, if you say to a lot of the engineers on the team, what are your highlights? It was the work that we did post Singapore," he said.

“Then, going back there the following year, and dominating. It’s the way that the team has worked together to fix some of those notable issues.

“There are things that have caught us out [this year], but I think the strength of the team is its people.

“This has been extraordinarily challenging. And we are all wiser and more experienced as a result of it. So I think long term, this will do the team no harm at all.”

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But while the team sees positives from the tough times, boss Toto Wolff is under no illusions about just how hard the start to the 2022 campaign has been.

Asked if he felt the team had found some benefit from the struggles, he said: “I'd rather not have been there.

“We managed to turn it around; but some things are more trivial than you think. Other things were important to get on top of the porpoising, and we have none today.

“From an engineering standpoint, that was certainly valuable. But for all of us, from a human standpoint, and a professional standpoint, it was very difficult to cope. Because if the top engineers don't really understand why the data are not correlating with reality, that's not easy.”

Pushed on if the team found itself lost at times, he said: “Yeah, you're lost. It's not the feeling of completely being lost. But you're thinking, how long is this going to take to comprehend? Because we have next season approaching.”

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