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How Mercedes have found so much pace since Bahrain

Although Red Bull looked like they were the team to beat at the start of the season, Mercedes sit atop the drivers' and constructors' standings after four races. Andrew Shovlin broke down how the team has improved the W12.

Hamilton Bottas Spain
To news overview © Mercedes

Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin explained that while a lot of hard work has been done in Brackley and Brixworth to get the team back on track after a slow start to the season, there isn't one thing in particular that has helped the team get the better of Red Bull so far.

Both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas struggled during pre-season testing in Bahrain, with Red Bull clearly having the faster car heading into the season opener. However in the end the Brit took victory, and has added another two since then to lead the championship.

Shovlin admitted that both Mercedes drivers were lacking confidence in the car at the start of the season, but work has been to improve the handling of the car and the delivery of the power from the engine.

"It's fair to say that following the Bahrain test we were struggling a bit with the car," Shovlin explained in a Mercedes YouTube video. "We hadn't got it into a good window, the drivers were talking about how they didn’t have the confidence to carry the speed into the corners, the car wouldn’t even turn well into the corners, it was difficult to get it round some of the tight corners there and we were losing time.

"The rear end was struggling when we got on the power, it was quite oversteery, so we had a lot to put right. There was a great deal of work back here in Brackley and also in Brixworth on the Power Unit side, because we could see a few things in terms of the handling of the car that wasn’t where we wanted it to be, and equally on the Power Unit side, there were a few areas that we could improve there in terms of the delivery of that power."

Shovlin revealed that improvements to their long runs helped them get the better of Red Bull in Bahrain, while updates in Imola also made for some small improvements.

"Most of it was really hard work and finetuning, we had numerous session in the simulator trying to get everything in the right window, and when we went back to Bahrain, while we weren’t the quickest, that was clearly Red Bull and we saw that in qualifying, but we did have a car in a place where we could actually compete with them," Shovlin added. "We had improved the long runs significantly and that was really the thing that allowed us to win that first race in Bahrain. We also had an update kit on the car in Imola and we are looking for small improvements really, there is so little between us and Red Bull that every few milliseconds we are chasing after.

"So, in summary it isn’t one thing, a bit of it is performance that we are bolting on with upgrades but a lot of it was really just understanding the issues and getting the car into a good place and allowing the drivers to have a car that they have confidence in and they can push to the limits and we are going to keep doing that because I am sure there is more to come.”


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