Mercedes: "It could be very difficult" in Austin

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Despite an encouraging performance for Mercedes at Zandvoort, Toto Wolff knows that it will not be the same at all tracks, including Austin.

 

Mercedes has been suffering from a rollercoaster ride this season, with a W13 that is giving the company's engineers headaches due to its complexity. At the Hungaroring, George Russell took pole position, then at Spa-Francorchamps, the Silver Arrows qualified about two seconds behind Max Verstappen's Red Bull.

There was some improvement last weekend at Zandvoort, where Lewis Hamilton was once well placed to challenge for victory thanks to an efficient race pace, but at Brackley they are well aware that this is very much dependent on the characteristics of the circuit.

"At Spa we had to raise the car a little bit, we were struggling over some bumps, and the direct consequence was a loss of performance," analyzes Andrew Shovlin, director of track engineering. "We then decided to use a bigger than ideal [rear] wing to try and regain downforce, and the direct consequence was that our performance was okay in the corners but we were slow on the straights, and that cost us."

"At Zandvoort, the car was easier to get in the right window. It drove well, it didn't bounce off the bumps. It gave the drivers confidence, they were able to attack, and we probably had our most competitive weekend if you look at our qualifying and racing all year. It was really encouraging, let's hope more tracks like that come along."

Team Principal Toto Wolff confirmed, "That bad weekend [at Spa] was really necessary to understand why it was going well [at Zandvoort]. It may sound strange for this high-tech science lab on wheels, but there doesn't seem to be a correlation of data this year. So we are gathering data on the track to put the puzzle together. We've added a few new pieces to understand for next year."


"But I don't expect weekends like [Zandvoort] every week until the end of the year. There will be bumpier tracks that won't allow us to run the car the way we want, and there will be tracks where drag is a major limitation. So we're not going to win the next seven races."

Among those seven upcoming races on a wide variety of tracks, expectations will vary widely. Toto Wolff is particularly concerned about the U.S. Grand Prix at a bumpy Circuit of the Americas.

"Our performance level is fundamentally rooted in the single-seater design as it is, but we have a better understanding of how everything interacts," Wolff is satisfied. "I think we can tune the car more precisely to suit the performance window and target it."

"That said, there are races that will be better for us and there could be some on the calendar that will be very difficult. Austin, we've discussed: it's likely to be very difficult. So we have to be realistic, in my opinion. We're not going to play pole position at every other track, but we really need to get back to that for next year, at least."

However, long before heading to Texas, the next stop is the Italian Grand Prix this weekend at the temple of speed that is Monza. What will Mercedes be able to expect at this track, given a likely lack of top speed? "We're hopeful that some of the specific problems we had at Spa on the bumps won't affect us," says Andrew Shovlin. "So we think we can put the car in a better operating window."

"However, the Red Bull looks very efficient, it's quick on the straights and it's quick in the corners. These issues seem to become more pronounced for us when we get to the low downforce tracks. It's hard to say where we'll be precisely, probably not as competitive as at Zandvoort but nowhere near as much trouble as at Spa, hopefully."

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)



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