On the racetrack, Ferrari has nothing but fear of Red Bull at the moment. There is a Mercedes driver and a Mercedes driver in second place in the championship standings, and the World Builders Champion shows that you can still look good on paper with a very slow car. 65 points for the team and 37 points for George Russell is a complete efficiency document.
Mercedes jumped to the chase role in Melbourne with a car only fifth in lap speed behind Ferrari, Red Bull, Alpine and McLaren. But silver arrows always hit the target. He is always on points and not even Ferrari can do that. Plus, George Russell and Lewis Hamilton always connect with exactly what’s in that car on Sundays.
Tire protection was a priority
Mercedes engineers are constantly adjusting the cars to the racetrack’s tire requirements on Sunday. Better to give up some places to start for this. The approach was also successful in Melbourne. Only Ferrari and Mercedes have found a way to protect the left front wheel from the gravel.
Even if it is close. George Russell had to fall back into the duel with Sergio Perez because he would have run out of the left front tire if he defended extensively. “We had to turn that tire into the corner of the end not to open the door for Checo, especially with the top speed Red Bulls have. But at some point that was no longer possible. If I had attacked harder there, the tire could have collapsed. “.
The engineers advised their new driver not to resist Perez when in doubt. “Perez outperformed our cars twice. In the second period it was a real overtaking maneuver below race speed. That says it all. The Red Bulls were six tenths faster than us and they had a better top speed. You can’t even defend yourself against that in Melbourne.” Russell would also have risked his place against Hamilton if he had put up too much resistance, even if he had to give up the last laps due to the engine overheating.
Mercedes takes advantage of others’ mistakes
Team boss Toto Wolff breathed a sigh of relief: “We leave Melbourne feeling better than we came here. The result shows that the spirit in the team and the work ethic are right. But we also know that neither Ferrari nor Red Bull can keep up and have to find lap times. In that sense, he walked Melbourne is doing well for us. We have more points on the account, more information and more data in our luggage.”
Positions 3 and 4 should not hide the fact that Mercedes is still one second per lap off the lead. The gap with Red Bull looked much kinder as tire problems made the Milton Keynes’ cars look worse than they are. “We are currently benefiting from the errors and problems of our opponents, from our superior reliability and from getting the most out of the package,” admits Russell.
Mercedes is still holding back with a major problem. Liar leads the engineers. “We’ve done over 100 experiments with setting up the car, up and down ground clearance, more and more damping, more fender placement, and different rear wings. There’s still no indication of a solution. It’s a complex problem. Ferrari also has a bouncer, but not the same The power. So the drivers are okay with that. Red Bull hasn’t had one, funny enough, from the day the big air upgrade came along.”
Hamilton’s car as a measurement lab
In order to find out the secret, the team outfitted the bottom of Hamilton’s car with sensors and gauges. This increased the weight of the already heavy car by another one and a half kilograms. But it is better to suffer once and get more information than the other way around. For this reason, both drivers entered the race with different settings. Learning is a priority.
Nobody expects a quick fix. Russell summed up the situation with a look at Leclerc and Perez: “I’d say we’ve made progress, but unfortunately we haven’t been able to close the gap in front of the players next to me.” He adds almost defiantly, “We know there’s potential in this car. We just have to tap into it. Unfortunately, it won’t happen overnight. There’s nothing big in the pipeline either. That’s why we have to tap into the situation in the meantime. Do it.” So you don’t lose touch.”
Russell can’t get any satisfaction from the inside score compared to superstar Hamilton. “With Williams it was important to compare to our teammates because it was just us and we didn’t fight for points. It’s about the bigger picture. Lewis and I have to work together and help find a solution. Points are not important.”
Skinny until summer vacation
Engineers also don’t want to make any predictions about when rebound should be under control. “Certainly before the end of the year. But it would be bold to say then that we will be on the same level as Ferrari. It’s a big job. They have a very good car on all kinds of tracks.” The gist is that Ferrari and Red Bull will continue to develop their cars until Mercedes finally releases the big speed brake.
Then there are other construction sites to clean up at Camp Silver Arrow. For example heavy weight. At best, summer vacation will be erased. Which is hard enough: “The regression problem will be solved first.”
In any case, no major updates are planned for Imola. Track should help there. Mercedes is hoping that the special runway and the many slow angles will turn the picture in their favor a little. The restriction: “The best we can do at the moment is half a second behind the leaders.”
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