As we near the eleventh date of the calendar and the meridian of the Formula 1 season, some teams are reaching the final steps of their development for 2022 and others continue to change in order to fight for the glory at the championship that is now being led by Red Bull and Max Verstappen.
Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin summarized what it is been like for Mercedes to climb aiming for performance in what it's proven to be a complicated year for the German Team, and as reported first by motorsport.com: “In the first few races, we were literally just sort of fighting to survive. And the drivers were fighting to survive with a car that was incredibly difficult to work with. But we did a decent job of scoring points, actually, and picking up on the opportunities when others were unreliable.”
“Barcelona was useful for us because we had something that wasn't bouncing around on every circuit that we went to. But clearly, a recent run of three street tracks highlighted another weakness and, to be honest, we're just going through it: looking for the problems, and then we'll try and apply our engineering skills to solving them.”
“But I would say that the route that we want to take now is becoming increasingly clear. And that's encouraging from a development point of view.”
“This [Silverstone] update is the first one along the line that we started to create in Barcelona.”
As the 2022 regulations and the new ground effect impacted the category pinnacle of motorsport this year, Mercedes as the eight-times-World Champions started struggling with performance issues they weren’t related to since before the hybrid era began. Andrew Shovlin explains that, since that first race in Bahrain, the W13 has actually changed a lot in terms of technical concepts.
“In terms of the concept of the car, we've actually changed our car an awful lot since it first ran,” he said. “It's behaving very, very differently to when it first ran. Even though if you look at it from a distance it looks quite similar to what we had at round one aerodynamically, it is quite a different beast now.”
Asked by Motorsport.com if he actually considers the team to have a new concept since the launch, Shovlin said: “I think yeah, we changed concept in Barcelona perhaps in terms of the way the car was working, to try and solve some of that bouncing.”
“And whilst our issues with bouncing, quite rightly, generated a lot of interest in the early races, because we were at the worst end of the pack, if you look at us here [at Silverstone], I think we're actually near the better end of it.”
“We're certainly not the best, but we're a long way from being the worst. So I think we have made progress. And what we're left with is a car that is a bit stiffer than we would like. But it's certainly a car that we can start to work with.”
Shovlin concluded by talking about the challenge that running downforce with the highest height possible on the car has been for all the teams in the category, as he says: “From day one with these regulations, the challenge was always going to be generating downforce high up.”
“It does look like we are running low, and that is one of the things that we'd like to develop. But we're making progress in that direction.”