Mercedes have admitted that it is difficult to measure how much lap time the W13 has gained since the beginning of the season. The team endured a tough start to 2022, with their car struggling to match the pace of rivals Red Bull and Ferrari as well as suffering from issues with bouncing and porpoising. There looked to be signs of improvement as the campaign progressed; before F1's traditional summer break, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell scored back-to-back double podiums for the Silver Arrows in France and Hungary. Recent races have posed challenges for the squad, though, resulting in them slipping back from Ferrari in the Constructors' Championship battle for P2.
How much progress has the W13 made?
When asked just how much the car has been improved since the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Mercedes' Technical Director Mike Elliott explained why it is tough to define this. "I think that's a really difficult question to answer," Elliott told media over the Japanese Grand Prix weekend. "Because I think you can look at the theoretical performance you've added to the car but, if you look at where we were back at the beginning of the season – with the car bouncing around all over the place – it's very difficult to put a number to that. "I think if we were in that position here [at Suzuka], we'd be probably off the back of the grid. I think the whole of the grid has moved forward considerably."
A "frustrating" weekend for Mercedes in Japan
The race at Suzuka turned out to be a tough one for Mercedes. Hamilton and Russell struggled to progress through the field in the race – which was shortened to 28 laps following a two-hour delay due to weather conditions – and finished in P5 and P8 respectively. Andrew Shovlin, the team's Trackside Engineering Director, admits that there are areas for the Brackley-based outfit to improve on during the final Grands Prix of the season. "Our weekend has been pretty tough but [Sunday] was frustrating: the car had good pace, but we were just stuck behind cars and had no chance of getting through without DRS [Drag Reduction System]," Shovlin explained. "[There are] plenty of things over the last two races that we can improve on, not least giving the drivers a better car in qualifying so we can hopefully start closer to the front. "We'll be busy for the next week getting ready for Austin and hoping to get ourselves back into a position where we are racing for the podium positions."