The reason why Mercedes is struggling so hard in Formula 1 2022

One of the biggest talking points of the new Formula 1 season has been Mercedes struggling to keep up with Ferrari and Red Bull – but why has the team strayed so far from the pace?

Throughout pre-season testing, Mercedes warned the Formula 1 world was off the pace thanks to the choppy birth of its W13.

But that was something the team had done regularly during testing over the years, often showing up for the first race and making it on the grid with a one-two.

But Mercedes didn’t get the one-two on the grid for the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

Instead, Lewis Hamilton qualified fifth fastest while new teammate George Russell finished ninth. Valtteri Bottas qualified sixth – for the record…

Hamilton was almost 0.7s slower than polesitter Charles Leclerc in the season opener – Russell even further away after a penalty.

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But why is Mercedes fighting so hard in F1 2022? Is it something the team can fix?

Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Why Mercedes is struggling in F1 2022

The real cause of Mercedes struggling in the new F1 season stems from the ups and downs that have taken a toll on the car.

As part of the new technical rules, the ground effect has returned to Formula 1 after decades.

Essentially, you want to drive your car as close to the track as possible to generate downforce.

However, as the Mercedes picks up downforce at high speed, the car’s ride height decreases.

This stops the airflow under the car – raising it slightly.

The car then lowers again as it picks up downforce, starting the whole cycle over.

Photo by Dan Istitene – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

It is also known as the porpoise.

Most teams have been affected by this during testing – but Mercedes has more than most problems with the W13.

What can they do?

Mercedes believes there’s a certain raw pace to its zero-sidepod design machine — if they can unleash the potential of it.

In Bahrain, the team salvaged a three-four finish after the Red Bull duo’s late retirement – despite being 40 seconds off the leaders when the safety car was called for Pierre Gasly’s fiery exit.

In Saudi Arabia, Hamilton qualified 16th – his worst performance since 19th at the 2009 British Grand Prix when Russell finished sixth after the seven-time champion suffered from a loose rear following set-up changes.

On race day, Russell was a lonely fifth as the Ferraris and Red Bulls swept away as Hamilton was only able to salvage 10th place.

Photo by Joe Portlock – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

It is the first time in his Mercedes career that he has finished P10 and the first time he has done so since the 2012 Korean Grand Prix.

Mercedes can simply raise the W13’s ride height to keep it from bouncing.

However, doing so would lose even more power, since lower ground clearance is crucial for a faster lap time.

The team say they will come back and fight for wins and they probably will.

It’s not the work of an instant though, as it could be too far behind Red Bull and Ferrari in both championships if the W13 starts to behave.

This is not the work of a moment – as the team believe it could be a few races before they can reverse the situation.

Photo by Clive Rose – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

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https://www.hitc.com/en-gb/2022/03/27/why-are-mercedes-struggling/ The reason why Mercedes is struggling so hard in Formula 1 2022

Brian Ashcraft

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