Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has admitted that the team are struggling to understand how to extract performance from their W13 car, following a below-par beginning to the 2022 F1 season.
The reigning Constructors' Champions have made a poor start in their pursuit of a record-extending ninth consecutive title after starting the season off the pace of Ferrari and Red Bull.
Mercedes are 62 points adrift of the Scuderia, and have only taken two podium finishes in the first five races of the season. They are currently on their longest winless run since the start of the turbo-hybrid regulations in 2014.
With his team having failed to make any noticeable step forward in the opening five events, Wolff defended the performance potential of the W13, but conceded that the car is difficult to drive at its current level.
"We've been straight from the beginning [that] we've been flying in the fog a little bit," Wolff told media, including RacingNews365.com.
"It's clear that there is potential in the car and she's fast, but we just don't understand how to unlock the potential.
"It's probably a car that is super difficult to drive and on the edge, and it's dipping in and out of the performance window, more out than in."
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Lack of correlation key to Mercedes' woes
Mercedes have been bringing upgrades in an attempt to drag themselves back into championship contention, with Mercedes Technical Director Mike Elliott believing the new wings brought to the Miami Grand Prix were a "step forward".
However, Elliott cautioned that analysing the data from their experiments and determining the next steps is unlikely to be achieved quickly.
Despite believing that much more pace can be extracted from the W13, Wolff agreed that translating the data and driver feedback into on-track improvements would be a timely process.
"Dissecting the data with a scalpel is just a painful process because it takes very long," added Wolff.
"The data sometimes doesn't show what the drivers tell us and certainly they have their hands full with a car that is just not at all comfortable or predictable to drive.
"The data doesn't show these big swings, and we haven't had this situation before in any of the previous years where [the data] just didn't correlate with what we see on the screens, and with what the driver feels, and that's that's making it even more difficult."
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