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Mercedes

Mercedes expect pecking order to change throughout 2022

Whilst certain teams were tipped as having had a strong showing at the first pre-season test in Barcelona, the engineering team at Mercedes have explained why the fastest car at the beginning of the 2022 F1 season may not still be the quickest by the end.

Hamilton Barcelona
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To news overview © Mercedes

Mercedes' engineering team have suggested that the pecking order could change dramatically throughout the 2022 F1 season.

Following the recent pre-season test in Barcelona, certain teams were tipped as having had a particularly strong showing. Ferrari and McLaren were amongst those to attract the attention of their rivals, for example, with George Russell suggesting on day two of the three-day event that these two teams were ahead of Mercedes.

However, in a new video explaining the biggest changes on their new car, the Silver Arrows' Technical Director, Mike Elliott, along with Managing Director of Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains, Hywel Thomas, have predicted that the order could look very different by the end of the year.

Plenty of development expected in 2022

Given the extensive new regulations that have come into effect for 2022, Thomas believes that there will be a lot of development happening as the season unfolds.

Elliott also thinks that other changes, such as having less time in the wind tunnel, will combine with this to have an impact.

"In conjunction with the regulation change, we have much fewer runs in the wind tunnel than we've ever had before, [and] less runs in CFD [Computational Fluid Dynamics]," Elliott explained.

"So I suspect that most of the teams will find they're probably still on a strong development slope, and we'll see lots of upgrades as a result of that.

"I think the other thing is that, because the cars are so new and so different, I suspect we'll also have the sort of reliability fixes that you need to put in place, and [there will be] a big chunk of work to put into that as well."

Fastest car at beginning of year may not be at the end

Thomas is expecting that the different pace of development amongst teams during the season could have an effect on who comes out on top at any given time.

"My thoughts with it are that, if everyone's developed perhaps at a slightly different speed, and everyone's doing their work in the wind tunnel, it could be that the fastest car at the start of the year is nowhere near the fastest car at the end of the year," Thomas said.

"As people bring upgrades, you might see quite a lot of jumping of who's the quickest car."

As such, Elliott agrees that the recent pre-season test in Barcelona - as well as the upcoming testing days in Bahrain on 10-12 March - is not a reliable indication of how the pecking order might play out in 2022.

"I think it's going to be really difficult to tell from winter testing who's quickest," he added.

"It's just because I think, depending what people's upgrade strategy is, [there will be questions such as] do people bring an upgrade to the second test? Do they bring an upgrade for the first race?

"And then, what's that order through the season? I think it's going to make quite a big difference."

Also interesting:

F1 Podcast: All you need to know after the first pre-season test

At the end of the first pre-season test of 2022 in Barcelona, Dieter Rencken and Thomas Maher discuss the on- and off-track developments so far.

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