Mercedes concerns with simulator and W15 concept emerge

Jaden Diaz
10 Mar, 2024

Mercedes is emerging as one of the biggest disappointments to start the 2024 World Championship. After running different programmes to their rivals in testing, there was a lot of curiosity around the W15.

This hype certainly increased after the words of James Allison, who ranked his car as second-fastest. He even predicted the W15 would be more competitive than Ferrari on race day.

However, Mercedes was divided on where they expected to be. Lewis Hamilton was much more negative during the pre-weekend in Bahrain.

“The W15 has a better platform. But we still have some issues we need to work on, and the situation is not perfect,” he stated.

“It is certainly a better starting point than the last two years, but we are still not where we would like to be, which is to compete with Red Bull and Ferrari.”

The W15 struggled the high speed sections in Jeddah

It is not the first time that Lewis Hamilton presented an opinion different from that of some members of his team. Often, when he speaks in that way, there is an important grain of truth.

The last two races, on very different tracks, were enough to verify that what the seven-time World Champion said was true.

While Mercedes had an engine problem in Bahrain, there is no such excuse for their performance in Jeddah.

Mercedes struggled to match Red Bull, Ferrari and even their customers – McLaren and Aston Martin. Above all, the Silver Arrows are far from competing with the Italian-based outfit.

In Jeddah, Leclerc’s pace was 4 tenths better than the W15, the same distance between Max Verstappen’s RB20 and the Monegasque.

“The car is good at low speed and not so bad at medium speed, but it’s at high speed that we’re miles away from the others, ” Hamilton explained to Sky Sports F1 post-race.

This is true, given that the W15 was a low midfield car in the fast sections of Jeddah.

They lost an average of 10 km/h from Ferrari, McLaren and Aston Martin, even 12 km/h from the Red Bull RB20.

At high speeds, the W15 was the penultimate team on the track, only ahead of Haas, as competitive as Sauber and even slightly worse than Alpine, Racing Bulls and Williams.

The result was a lap time in the snake (from turn 4 to turn 10) that was three-tenths worse than Leclerc’s Ferrari and four-tenths worse than Verstappen’s Red Bull in qualifying.

Meanwhile, in the race, it actually widened to 1 second while following Lando Norris with the same compound.

Toto Wolff: “We have a big problem, but we continue to push hard”

Mercedes took to the track in Jeddah with a new rear wing. On paper, this configuration should have been better than the medium-high load winger from Bahrain.

“We knew we had a smaller rear wing, but we were making up for what we were losing in the corners.

“The problem is that we lost too much at high speeds,” Toto Wolff announced after the race.

According to the former world champions, there is something more important to the lack of performance at high speeds than a simple question of the rear wing.

This is something that Mercedes has not yet understood.

“We have a big problem. Our sensors and our simulations say that in a certain speed range, we should have a certain amount of downforce. But, in reality, we don’t. said a disappointed but not resigned Austrian team principal.

Wolff mentioned the possibility of issues with the simulator in the factory. This could, once again, be impacting the W15’s performance on track.

The W15 is certainly a better car than last season’s, but it brings with it some of its limitations and, in part, also the way it wants to work, which is rather close to the asphalt. Something that Lewis Hamilton, albeit not directly, is already questioning.

“It makes me think that maybe we haven’t made big enough changes.

“If we look at the three teams in front of us [Red Bull, Ferrari and Mclaren], they still have different concepts in some areas,” Hamilton said.

These teams make their cars work at higher heights than Mercedes, while the W15 wants to run very low and still runs into that bouncing, which they thought they had solved in Brackley.

“It’s now been two years since we discovered hopping, and it’s still something we need to fully understand,” said Toto Wolff.

He still concluded his statements by instilling confidence and insisting Mercedes will work next week to return stronger to Melbourne.

Author: Piergiuseppe Donadoni

Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang

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