Mercedes problems: When will the Joker W13 emerge?

Experts agree: If the Mercedes W13 succeeds, it’s a winner. But to win all over, the setup window has to get bigger. Baku should show if the car is taking a step in the right direction.

The Mercedes W13 stands out from the field. Even the average person instantly recognizes the car with its ultra-thin side trunks. The Williams FW44 is the most similar to a Mercedes. But only visually. Williams leads at the end of the field. Mercedes wants to be on top. But so far, there was only a short glimmer of hope that this could be achieved. In Barcelona, ​​the Silver Arrow was three tenths lower than the top. Lewis Hamilton was as fast as Red Bull in the race.


Even Mercedes engineers do not fully trust peace. “We’ve always been good in Barcelona. That’s why our good form wasn’t over-represented there. We were a little flattered. In Monte Carlo, the old gap is back.” However, Mercedes fired a warning shot at the competition. Lewis Hamilton and George Russell were clearly the fastest in high-speed turns 3 and 9. On the straights, Mercedes was again in the top ten. The sore point was the slow angles.


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Mercedes stands out visually with its ultra-thin side trunks.

Silver Arrow unique car

Experts like Andy Green of Aston Martin and James Key of McLaren agree: “On paper, the Mercedes is a winning car. It has huge potential. But you also have to get it to run on the right track.” Both teams radically changed their cars at the Spanish Grand Prix. But neither Aston Martin nor McLaren walked the Mercedes road. Like the Red Bull, both now have lateral sides that slope down the body. This was the safe way.


You have to understand the other person first. James Key admits: “The Mercedes way is unique, and again different from our old concept, although our side legs were also very skinny. It’s a very clever approach. I take my hat off to my Mercedes colleagues because they dared to do something like this. These The car operates in a completely different way from the rest.”


Colleague Andy Green confirms: “When I look at Mercedes, I get the impression that this solution theoretically brings the most aerodynamic power to critical points. Once the recoil is eliminated, this track can be very interesting. This is not so easy to copy. You need a chassis purpose-built to do that.”


The choice between plague and cholera

The weakness of the Mercedes W13 at the moment is its small operating window. A car can only show its qualities when it is low and tough. That’s why recoil was so deadly. The engineers had a choice between plague and cholera. If you climb with the rear ground clearance, the aerodynamics no longer provide the downforce that the wind tunnel promised. If you stay low, drivers will not be able to control their vehicle.


The new chassis, which debuted in Barcelona, ​​reduced the car’s vibration on fast lanes. But Barcelona is also a circuit that is generally pushed low and hard, and where summons and summons from the floor don’t run as fast as they do elsewhere. Baku could be the real touchstone. Even if there was no vibration caused by aerodynamics, Mercedes passed the first hurdle. The second is to learn the car. “For us, the season only started in Barcelona.”


More suspension travel was needed in Monte Carlo in order to get through the bumps and limitations well. If you drive too low and too hard, you have a different form of rebound. The car landed on the road for mechanical reasons. This is exactly the trap that Mercedes has fallen into.

George Russell - Monaco GP 2022

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How long will it take for Mercedes to get its concept up and running reliably?

Mercedes chassis improvement

The engineers haven’t yet found the key to making the aerodynamics work reliably even with greater ground clearance and more suspension travel. But the next two racetracks on the calendar require exactly that, say the engineers: “Baco and Montreal require the same thing as Monte Carlo. The only difference is: You have longer runs. But you need ground clearance, a stable flight platform, and a stable one,” heck. We haven’t got all of that yet. The next time we will definitely fight up front again will be at Silverstone.”


The Silver Arrow should be able to win everywhere by the time of the English Grand Prix if you want to have a say in awarding the world title. The double whammy in Azerbaijan and Canada is another area of ​​testing for Mercedes. It looks like Mercedes has another construction site. The setup window wasn’t particularly large in the past either. But at the time, body technicians still had tools to keep the car in the desired window without mechanical defects.


As of this year, targeted vehicle lowering on the strait is no longer possible. Collective inertia dampers are prohibited. With the more recently described conventional springs and dampers, it appears that Mercedes is still having difficulties controlling the car’s ride height. An engineer reveals: “Our mechanical problems were obscured by air problems. It wasn’t a catalyst for air problems, it was an amplifier.”


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