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F1, Mercedes presumptuous in the project and in an identity crisis in Jeddah: new car in Barcelona, ​​but the Budget Cap …

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Facts and not words . While it is true that Red Bull and Ferrari started off on the right foot in the 2022 F1 World Championship , following two very different design philosophies, Mercedes is not there at the moment . Beyond Lewis Hamilton ‘s “kappa” shot in Bahrain, still good at capturing Milton Keynes’s harakiri, in Jeddah the Silver Arrows confirmed their problems and placed the accent on another aspect.

We start from what we already knew on the eve: W13 not fast . The 32,732 remedied by George Russel (fifth), despite the presence of the Safety Car, are there to send a message. A presumptuous project that of the three-pointed star, with the idea of ​​catching everyone on the counterattack with the adoption of bellies that “are and are not there” . The intention of the Brackley team’s technicians was clear: to reduce the overall dimensions in that area as much as possible and to have a single inlet flow on the bottom to be projected upwards thanks to the diffuser. We wanted to minimize drag and advance , thinking that the aerodynamic load was sufficient to have benefits even when cornering.

Mercedes, however, made the mistake of underestimating their rivals , not imagining that the bellies present on the other cars did not necessarily have to represent an obstacle from an aerodynamic point of view. In fact, especially in the case of Ferrari, the elliptical sidepods have the function of creating a lot of downforce and making sure that the Maranello car has a large amount of downforce . It is no coincidence that the F1-75 is the one that has had the best cornering behavior so far. Different speech for Red Bull which is a sort of middle ground between Ferrari and Mercedes, having in the current state of things some great benefits in terms of efficiency.

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What about the W13 then? To compensate for the lack of load, Mercedes engineers were forced to use the simplest method, which is to load the wings . A solution, however, clearly ineffective because it causes the drag problem (resistance to advancement) of which Toto Wolff spoke. In addition, there is also the question of pumping which the Anglo-German car suffers more than others and the obligation is to travel at a higher height than its rivals . Result: pure poor performance .

That said, an identity criticality was also highlighted in Jeddah . What does it mean? The working method followed by Lewis Hamilton’s garage seemed like the one that, knowing that you can’t do better than fifth / sixth, tries to upset the car’s set-up to find the philosopher’s stone. It is understandable for those used to frequent certain habitats to think this way, but at the end of the fair for Lewis a qualification ended in Q1 and an anonymous tenth place in the race.

And now? There is talk of a deeply modified machine in Barcelona (Spain), with the introduction of a new fund in Australia. So there are ideas, but it will also be necessary to deal with the Budget Cap and the limit of 140 million. Speaking of a car to be profoundly modified, it is reasonable to think that investments are not few, not to mention that the others will not wait for the Silver Arrows to rise from the ashes, not forgetting an engine (Mercedes) with many question marks on the his goodness.


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