We seem to be very much in the midfield, admits Shovlin


Mercedes trackside engineering director, Andrew Shovlin admits that currently the German team is a midfield runner and not a title challenger.

On a day the Brackley-based outfit failed to get a car into Q3 for the first time in ten years, some might say the first cracks began to appear.

In the final moments of Q2, having failed to improve his time after Carlos Sainz' off brought out the red flag during one of the day's few dry periods, the TV cameras picked up on an 'exchange' between Lewis Hamilton and team boss Toto Wolff.

While neither was willing to give anything away, the look on the Austrian's face was enough for social media to go into overdrive.

Meanwhile, Andrew Shovlin admits that until the various issues, including porpoising, can be overcome the W13 remains a midfield challenger.

"We've struggled with tyre warm up with this car to be honest, we've not got to the bottom of it," he admitted. "Today was a painful example of that, where we couldn't get the runs in that were long enough to build temperature to get the cars into the right window.

"We've seen it at all the races," he added, "at Bahrain it doesn't really cost you. At all the other tracks it's actually been a difficulty in qualifying.

"Our race pace has normally been good," he continued, "we've demonstrated that we're third quickest on race pace.

"The problem is on a single lap, we seem to be very much in the midfield. It's an area that we're working on, but we don't yet fully understand."

The Briton revealed that adding to the conundrum is the fact that the 2022 cars cannot rely on brake temperatures to warm the tyres.

"Before you could get the hot air from the brakes straight onto the rim and you get a very rapid transition of the heat there through into the bulk of the rubber," he explained. "The regulations have been designed to make that difficult and they've succeeded.

"But we need to understand why we can't match the midfield teams. We know Red Bull and Ferrari have got more downforce right now but we should be able to perform in the same position that we're racing in, which is realistically the third quickest team.

"This is not a great track for overtaking," he admitted, "so we expect the rest of the weekend to be a challenge, but we have shown that our race pace is better than our single lap and with both the sprint and the main race we have longer than normal to try and recover."

Check out our Sprint gallery from Imola, here.

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Published: 23/04/2022
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