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Mercedes diagnose problem: ‘There are issues we need to get on top of quickly’

Mercedes have explained what some of its key findings were over an ultimately disappointing Japanese Grand Prix weekend.

Mercedes Japan
To news overview © XPBimages

Eight-time constructors’ champions Mercedes have disclosed what they uncovered at the Japanese Grand Prix, following a test programme aimed at making its car more predictable.

Mercedes have struggled to get to grips with the modern ground-effect regulations in F1. Since the introduction of the new rules for the 2022 season, the team has won just one grand prix.

Despite dropping its radical ‘zeropod’ concept for good part-way through last year, adopting a more conventional car philosophy has yet to reproduce the kinds of results Mercedes enjoyed during the first half of the turbo-hybrid era, from 2014.

This season, the team have picked up just 34 points from the opening four rounds and sit just one point ahead of Aston Martin in the race for fourth in the constructors’ standings. At the most recent round, in Japan, George Russell and Lewis Hamilton could only achieve seventh and ninth place finishes in the W15, respectively.

Addressing the key takeaways from the weekend, Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin explained the team had been trying to establish how to better understand its car.

“The big programme we were looking at was to try and get the car a bit more predictable through the weekend,” he stated.

“What we found is that we can get it in a window but if the wind changes, the track temp changes, it quickly falls out of it and that was leading to poor performance in race and qualifying.”

'We seem to have a more stable platform'

However, the 50-year-old does not see it as all doom and gloom, with the team taking some steps to making the car easier to work with.

“There’s no doubt that we’re not where we need to be at the moment, we know that and we know that we’ve got work to do,” he conceded, before adding: “Working with the car across the weekend was easier, the balance of the car was more consistent, there are issues that we need to get on top of and get on top of quickly.”

Recent Mercedes cars have been plagued by unpredictability, resulting in drastically different performance from race-to-race and even session-to-session – as Hamilton highlighted at the Australian Grand Prix, something Shovlin sees as improving following the programme in Japan.

“But certainly, we seem to have a more stable platform, one where its behaviour through the whole weekend is more consistent but as I said we know that there’s work to do and we’ll be working on that immediately."

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