(Motorsport-Total.com) – “We knew the day would come when it would be difficult,” said Mercedes Motorsport Director Toto Wolff. The Silver Arrows had won every constructors’ title since 2014, narrowly missing out on the drivers’ title in 2021. Of course, the new Formula 1 regulations for 2022 carried the risk of that strand being torn.
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At Mercedes, the season has been quite eventful
But the way it was done surprised many pundits, including Mercedes itself. The first victory of the season came only two races before the end, and Red Bull was a long way off for most of the season. season. Last fall, we were still confident for the coming season.
“I remember back in October we were talking about how exciting it was to find performance under the bodywork,” Wolff says in a posted recap video from the team, “and the real thing was knowing how far where we could actually get the car. And I think that put us on the wrong track.”
In the wind tunnel, Mercedes saw huge performance gains when the car was brought back to ground level. But: “I think if you look back at the season, we pushed too hard in that direction,” says technical director Mike Elliott.
Because when the cars got on track for the first time, an unexpected phenomenon began to appear: porpoising. This blew cars across the street and caused serious problems and headaches, especially for Mercedes.
“Usually you know where you’re going to be with the car and we usually start the season with a pretty good idea of where our performance is going to compare to the previous car,” Elliott explained. “But I think this is the first season in a long time that we’ve started with a problem that we couldn’t foresee.”
Mercedes wonders about the problem
The start of the season was a shock for Mercedes. “Normal development over the winter made the car feel good. Then going into winter testing and finding major issues with the car was quite daunting,” the chief engineer said.
Surprisingly, the third and fourth places were obtained in Bahrain, but Lewis Hamilton in particular had to struggle: in the second round of the season in Saudi Arabia, he asked if there was even a point for his tenth place, and he came in round four at Imola finished 13th outside the points.
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And while the competition seemed to have the problem under control, Mercedes continued to intrigue. “What was particularly difficult for us was that some of our competitors had it or seemed to have a powerful car and it took us so many months to figure out what the fundamental problem was,” says Wolff.
“It cost us the season,” said the Austrian.
Of course, it wasn’t an easy situation for Mike Elliott either. The head of technology only took over from James Allison last year and was therefore responsible for a team car for the first time. “Of course it wasn’t a good starting position,” he admits, calling the start of the season “a real challenge”.
Learn from failure
But what appealed to him was Mercedes’ reaction to the situation: “The way the team has come together and tried to figure that out and the progress we’ve made is the part I’m happy with. “, he underlines. Because Mercedes fought their way through and even got a win in the end.
According to Wolff, it was a valuable experience for the team after all the success: “You only learn the most in the most difficult environments, and it could have been a different story if we had earned more,” he says. .
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“But I think it’s super important from a personal development perspective and as a leader, and I’m sure it’s as difficult as it has been at times.”
“I think we’ve all said we don’t know how good we are as a team until the hard times come,” Elliott added. “I think you learn the most from it, and I hope we take that with us for years to come.”
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