RACING

Mercedes has ‘many, many more’ upgrades coming to the 2022 F1 car

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Mercedes still has “many more” updates to introduce for the remainder of the 2022 Formula 1 season, according to its chief strategy officer James Vowles.

So far the team has had the third fastest car of the season, comfortably behind Ferrari and Red Bull but clear of midfield, having pursued a design that includes a ‘zero sidepod’ concept that has been regularly questioned in light of his deficit to the top two teams.

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While some other teams with relatively left sidepod concepts have come close to Red Bull’s design by introducing improvements, Mercedes have stuck to their concept.

Asked in Mercedes’ French Grand Prix debrief video whether the Paul Ricard’s upgrades, which included a modified curvature of the floor and a revised cooling path for the front brakes, had made a difference, Vowles said the team would continue to introduce new parts that come closer to Ferrari and Red Bull each time.

“As for the upgrades themselves, yes, these are incremental steps, these are small steps that we add to the car, but the important point is that we plan to introduce many, many more in races that follow,” said Vowles.

“We’re not going to be able to catch up and be with Ferrari and Red Bull all at once.

“But hopefully, as you’ve seen throughout the season so far, we are gradually closing that gap and we have more to come.”

Vowles’ comments suggest Mercedes will persist with developing the W13 rather than focusing on its 2023 car early.

As part of the same question, Vowles was asked about the difference in pace Mercedes are capable of in the race compared to practice and qualifying sessions.

Lewis Hamilton was nine-tenths of a second off pole in French GP qualifying at the wheel of the fastest Mercedes, which struggles to generate tire temperature over a single lap. The car was closer to six tenths of the ultimate race pace.

Vowles said the team preferred this performance compromise as it ensured the car was more competitive over a longer distance, but added that it would be crucial for Hamilton and George Russell to be “there or close to it”. during qualifying this weekend at the Hungaroring, a track where overtaking is more difficult.

“Why are we a bit more off in practice one and two, even in qualifying there’s a big gap to the front and we’re more in midfield with the McLaren [Lando Norris] overqualifying George, but during the race the car just seems to transform? Vowles said.

“It’s a valid observation, it’s one that has been there all year. It’s not necessarily down to the design – we didn’t expect to be so out of step in qualifying – but the reality is that we would much rather have the fast race car that we have right now.

“The race lasts over 50 laps and having a car that is competitive on all those laps gives you opportunities and we have generally been able to come back in the race in a solid position.

“Having said that, obviously we would prefer to be more competitive in qualifying. There are going to be tracks like Budapest that are going to cause us problems and we have to make sure we are really there or close to it to make sure we don’t have a number of other teams between us and Ferrari and Red Bull. .”

Expanding on this, when asked if the double podium achieved by Hamilton and Russell at Paul Ricard had made the team optimistic about their chances at the Hungaroring, where Hamilton has won eight times, Vowles reiterated that Mercedes still had a big deficit compared to Ferrari and Red Bull. .

“We’re not where we need to be to win yet, that’s the short answer, especially for example on the pace of qualifying and Hungary will expose that weakness somewhat,” he said.

“We are realistic, we have made steps forward and I can see progress and we can see progress on how we are going to move forward again in the next races, but in Budapest we have to be realistic.

“Where we are with this car, it is a solid race car, but we may not be able to use everything in the conditions presented to us and we have to do a better job than what we have done for us. make sure we qualify.” where the car should be, forward.

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