What is behind the qualification drawback?

In 2021, Red Bull managed to interrupt Mercedes’ seven-year dominance at the final second, though the season finale in Abu Dhabi has been uncontested since then. But regardless of how you are feeling about it, one factor is clear: if the then-black Silver Arrows’ profitable streak hadn’t been damaged this season, it will have ended this season at the newest. Because since the introduction of the new automobile rules, Mercedes has fallen far behind the prime two groups, Red Bull and Ferrari.

Mercedes, who lacked the tempo in qualifying, nonetheless carried out properly in the race

Toto Wolff’s crew, which was searching for a very quick lap, didn’t see any floor at the starting. Over the first ten weekends of the race, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell had been a mean of 1.31 seconds off their respective poles in qualifying. Somewhat everlasting in the premier class, which introduced Mercedes into the combat not for the prime spot, however immediately for the midfield.

However, all was properly in the races. Not solely did the two British drivers persistently rating factors in the first ten Grands Prix, additionally they completed on the backside six occasions. DNF? Basically no. Silver Arrow was and is dependable. Only at Silverstone did Russell fail to complete. However, it was solely as a result of he was not allowed to start out the race after he instantly rushed to the support of Alfa-Sauber man Guanyu Zhou after a horrific crash. For comparability: Ferrari failed to complete 5 occasions throughout this era, Red Bull twice.

Then got here Hungary…

“In Budapest we had been capable of take just a few steps ahead. We fought our solution to pole. It was a really small consequence, as a result of earlier than that Ferrari had certified six tenths sooner,” Mercedes chief strategist James Vowles mentioned shortly after the Hungarian GP. . Indeed, this weekend, the knot appeared to have been cracked (at the least to a point). In qualifying in Budapest, George Russell left everybody behind to safe his new crew’s first pole place of the season.

In Hungary, Mercedes finally had something to celebrate after qualifying, Photo: LAT Images
In Hungary, Mercedes lastly had one thing to rejoice after qualifying, Photo: LAT Images

In addition to Mercedes’ long-standing confidence and really robust race tempo, there was additionally an improved efficiency in qualifying in Hungary. Or was it slightly earlier? In Austria, too, the hole between Mercedes and the quickest in qualifying has already narrowed. (Note: Since Hamilton and Russell every “parked” their W13 in Q3, the occasions from Q2 are used right here for comparability.) In the finish, Alpine Republic’s Brackley was simply three-tenths behind the prime. Since then, the common expertise hole has additionally decreased considerably. After the first ten races it was nonetheless 1.31 seconds, however in the final six races it was 0.94 seconds – a full 0.37 seconds much less. But it is nonetheless an excessive amount of for the World Constructors’ Champion of the previous eight seasons, who has been chasing victories and world titles.

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Interestingly, the star-studded crew has been capable of improve its qualifying tempo since Austria and Hungary: it primarily advantages from downhill programs. Austria lacked three-tenths, Hungary almost three-and-a-half, and Holland almost five-tenths. Distances on circuits with a lot much less wing motion are principally the identical as what we noticed earlier in the season: 1 second in France, virtually 2 seconds at Spa and 1.4 seconds at Monza is telling. somewhat than plain language.

What’s nonetheless at play right here is the tiring (particularly for Mercedes) “bounce” theme. Explaining the scenario forward of the Spa Grand Prix, Mercedes lead engineer Andrew Shovlin mentioned: “At Spa we needed to increase the automobile a bit as a result of we had been combating some bumps. It price us our efficiency. So we determined to go for it. With extra wings to deliver and on the end line we had been good in the corners however very sluggish in the straights.”

“At Zandvoort, the automobile was simpler to get into the proper window. It was properly positioned and did not bounce off the tracks. It gave the drivers confidence and so they might actually push. […] We hope there will likely be many extra programs like this,” Shovlin continued to investigate what has been Mercedes’ most profitable Grand Prix of the season so far.

Too good tire dealing with – a curse or a blessing?

In addition to the “previous” drawback with the bounce, which the crew is nonetheless wanting into, George Russell believes that he has recognized one other important weak spot of the W13: “After 16 races, we’re nonetheless making an attempt to know the automobile. There is no such factor. I doubt we’re robust by way of tire temperature and dealing with and that might play towards us.” So, in the eyes of a Mercedes driver, does the higher tire dealing with in the Mercedes work towards it? How can this be?

For this, the younger Brit provides the following clarification: “During the qualifying interval, midfield automobiles can deliver a excessive temperature to their tires. So they run slower and injury the tires much less. This provides them extra efficiency in the lap. On the different hand, our exits need to be quick sufficient to deliver the tires as much as temperature. It implies that we put on the tire extra, so we may be at a drawback in qualifying now, however that is only a principle. It’s been confirmed to occur.”

Rather, it implies that each weak qualifying and robust race tempo are (at the least in elements) the identical factor. More exactly, on tires that slowly construct up the required temperature. Curse in choice, blessing in competitors. Because Pirelli tires keep chilly for a very long time, which is dangerous for a quick lap, however they warmth up rather more slowly in a protracted race, which suggests they robotically put on much less. Unsurprisingly, the two Mercedes drivers usually battled for the podium on a comparatively sluggish qualifying weekend (Formula 1 Results 2022). Thanks to reliability and tire administration.

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