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Why Mercedes have more than one problem to solve with the W13

Reigning Constructors' World Champions Mercedes have had a less than ideal start to 2022, with the W13 struggling badly with porpoising at high speed. But as RacingNews365.com technical analyst Paolo Filisetti notes, the Brackley-based squad have another issue that needs solving.

The Bahrain Grand Prix will have given both Mercedes and Red Bull plenty of food for thought. For Mercedes, finishing in third and fourth place was a better result than they could have hoped for, due to their pace deficit to Red Bull and Ferrari. During both qualifying and the race, this topped out at as much as nine-tenths of a second per lap, even allowing for the late introduction of the Safety Car, which bunched the pack up. Though the team's problems with porpoising on the straights have been well documented, the car's main problem appears to be a lack of downforce generated by the W13 as a whole. More than 80 per cent of the total amount is generated by the Venturi tunnels underneath the floor, with the rest generated by the bodywork and the wings. It appeared that in fast corners, the W13 would lose downforce both underneath the car - especially at the rear - and also on the upper bodywork.

Upper bodywork affecting W13's underfloor aerodynamics

In a way, it is a strange phenomenon that can be explained by the fact that the upper bodywork of the W13 dramatically affects the aerodynamics underneath the car. The result is that with certain combinations of speed, lateral acceleration and ride height, the car suddenly loses downforce due to the fact that the airflow passing on top of the upper bodywork suddenly detaches from it, especially in the area between the sidepods and the engine cover. In a nutshell, we can say that the airstream detaches at this level and does not continue towards the rear end. Furthermore, the shape of the sidepods generates a sort of spillage through the floor sides, reducing the efficiency of the floor with sudden pressure changes underneath.

Mercedes set to bring updates for their car to Imola

This is not a phenomenon that can be managed with set-up changes. As far as we know, a first aero overhaul of the W13's current concept is expected for the fourth round of the 2022 season at Imola, and its final step will be introduced two races later at Barcelona. Though several observers suggested that Mercedes' power unit was inferior to those of Ferrari and Red Bull, the team does not appear too concerned by this, as their data suggests that they were not able to deploy all their engine's performance due to their car's lack of stability.

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