Mercedes F1 has brought changes to Paul Ricard this weekend, but they don’t seem as substantial or, it must be said, as effective as those at Barcelona or Silverstone.
What can we see from Mercedes about these famous new parts? Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ chief race engineer, shed some light on this.
“In terms of performance, we have made a small upgrade, but not one that allows us to beat a team. If you look, the positives were that the car no longer had a porpoise. We are now in the best of times. There is no there was no, porpoise. We can roll the car wherever we want.”
Much of Mercedes’ development, however, should shift and focus on next year’s car. How will the W14 be like the current W13? Will Mercedes keep its concept according to Shovlin or start from scratch?
“Yes, in Formula 1, we never draw a line on what we do. It’s a gradual mix of resources from the W13 moving into next year’s car. We’ll need clarity on the regulations, if they’re going to change before we do a really big change. But every team will have started working next year. The difference for us is that the start of the year was very difficult, it didn’t make much sense and we had to put out the fire.”
“We’re just starting to get to a point where we can go back to what we call development as usual. And it’s actually pretty exciting. There’s a lot of happy people in the factory now that we’re entering a phase that’s starting to make sense for us. And we just use them. We have to score points, we have to fight in the championships, but the most important thing is that we have to learn to know what we want to do next year and try to get the car back to the top of the standings.”
Can Shovlin be more specific about Mercedes’ zero bridge philosophy, which is very original in the paddock? Will the German team continue to go it alone with this philosophy?
“We don’t think that just changing our pontoons will change our competitiveness. We certainly don’t agree with that, and we’re also not willing to say that’s how Mercedes should be, so since the beginning of the year we’ve been looking at the bodies of other teams and certainly in sight. Next year, we’re looking for ideas up and down the grid. And maybe we don’t just take another team’s idea. »
“We are looking for combinations of different concepts. It’s a gradual process, but fundamentally our car will not change its appearance massively this season. But I’d be surprised if next year’s car was the same visually. »
The 2009 parallel
Can this 2022 season look like McLaren’s 2009 season? Crashed earlier this year, Lewis Hamilton was able to fight for poles and wins in 2009 – will it be the same scenario this year? Shovlin, who worked at Brawn GP in 2009, of course hopes so…
“Yes, I had a point of view contrary to my team; we started brilliantly but didn’t have the resources to keep up and struggled to get close to the podium at the end of the year. There may be parallels. If you look at McLaren’s situation at the time, the car they launched was not really up to the team’s capabilities. When they started to understand what they had to do with the regulations, the pace of development was really impressive. »
“And a parallel could be that in our team, we are just beginning to rediscover the pleasure of this engineering and development challenge. It always takes time between … there’s a lag between understanding and learning and bringing things to the track that make it faster, but the vibe is of a team that’s determined to get back to the top. Our goal is still to be the fastest car; I don’t know if we can do it this year or if it will take us until next year, but we are all fighting hard for it. »