Mercedes boss calls on team to think out the box to solve race pace mystery

Dieter Zetsche and Toto Wolff celebrate after the Silver arrows conquered the first row in qualifying - 24 hours later the mood was far less jolly

Dieter Zetsche and Toto Wolff celebrate after the Silver arrows conquered the first row in qualifying – 24 hours later the mood was far less jolly

Mercedes urged their many Formula 1 technical boffins to “think outside the box” and consider the unconsidered after a Spanish Grand Prix that left the team baffled by their cars’ lack of race pace.

Despite scorching to their third pole position in a row, with Germany’s Nico Rosberg notching up his second in succession, Mercedes flopped when it mattered most at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Lewis Hamilton went from second to 12th, in what he said was his worst race for a very long time, while Rosberg finished sixth.

How to manage and extract performance from the Pirelli tyres is the conundrum and Mercedes, who have a stellar line-up of senior technical figures, planned to throw all their brainpower into finding an answer.

“Generally what you can say is that the car is a quick car,” Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff told reporters after emerging from a two-hour post-race technical debrief at the circuit.

Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton in Barcelona

Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton in Barcelona

“This is not about a car or a team struggling with lacking pace, a car where you end up 15th on Saturday and then 12th or 16th on Sunday. It is a car that is tremendously fast on the Saturday and has real speed. And then on Sunday we are not able to manage the car with the tyres.

“One could say ‘Did the others go even much more conservative in terms of race setup?’ I don’t think so. It’s something else and I think it requires out of the box thinking,” added the Austrian.

“It’s about everybody in the team sticking their heads together and saying let’s analyse what we do from a Saturday to a Sunday. Is there anything we need to be looking at which we didn’t look at until now?”

Barcelona, like Bahrain before it, is punishing for even the hardest tyres and it would be comforting for Mercedes to think that the circuit characteristics did not suit them and things will improve elsewhere.

Nico Rosberg just before being overtaken by Sebastian Vettel during the race

Nico Rosberg just before being overtaken by Sebastian Vettel during the race

However the next circuit on the calendar is Monaco, a tight and twisty circuit without high energy corners, which must be treated in isolation.

The risk is that if single lap speed is compromised in exchange for better race pace, Mercedes could lose out in Monaco where pole position carries a premium and overtaking is extremely difficult.

Wolff said he was “pretty sure” any solution would cost the team in qualifying pace. He added that it would be looking at matters through rose-tinted glasses to think the problems were more related to the track than the car.

“It’s not an inherent car problem. I think it’s probably something about processes,” he declared.

Mercedes W04 in the Barcelona pits

Mercedes W04 in the Barcelona pits

“The question is: ‘Is there anything we can be looking at which is similar to previous years?. Is it that this car is being made for a dragster race instead of for a grand prix? A German journalist said that,” he smiled. “No. I don’t think so. My opinion is it’s something else.

“As I am on the rather pessimistic side, I don’t believe in magic or a golden key. But it could be. The car is good. It’s just changing the approach or looking at these processes for racing.”

Wolff said Mercedes, who had problems particularly with their rear tyres last year, had done a good long run in final practice and set the car up for qualifying and the race accordingly but it had not worked.

The priority now was to analyse everything, to look at how the tyres were treated, how they were heated up and how that heat is retained.

“It’s how you drive it, slow or fast in the first couple of laps. How you build it up. We are looking at our competitors and what you can see is that clearly some cars are having an easier life with the tyres,” said Wolff. (Reuters)

 

  • hillside

    at Mercedes, they only work up to saturdays and take the day off on sundays

  • fools

    @ Dieter Zetsche

    was all giggles dbefore and during quali… :) and then… :(

    lmfao wtf happen BENZ? Dieter Zetsche?

  • Johnny

    Last year, everyone asked Michael to retired immediately, saying
    he has lost it, laughing at him.

    Now how about asking Lewis to do so…. a world champion being
    lapped, not able to drive ….. etc.

  • Hawk

    @Johnny
    Lewis already has 50pts you myopic …. how many did Schumi have the whole of 2012? how many podiums did Schumi have in 3 yrs? oh, and how many does Lewis have in 5 races? dimwit

  • Johnny

    IMO, I’m trying to say if the car is not is performing, the driver
    will having a hard time to proof anything, period.

    But don’t everyone agreed this year the Merc W04 is much better
    than previous 3 years’ cars? That’s why Lewis has more points but
    if you had bad “luck”, look at Nico.

  • Johnny

    Kimi said: “The car was pretty shit. It was just a bad car, a bad
    year for making a really good result and fighting for the
    championship.”

    His WDC standings in the first 8 races of that year, from Australia to Germany: Kimi Raikkonen – 10 points.

  • Johnny

    That’s in 2009.

    *ww.guardian.co.uk/sport/2013/may/10/kimi-raikkonen-lotus-f1-red-bull

  • stewy33

    Ross Brawn designed a car for mechanical grip, that was fine a few years ago. With the tires today you have to rely on areo which the Mercedes lacks. So yes, you can go out thier a throw down a monster lap on 2-3 lap runs, but your a moving chicane afterwards as the mechanical grip heats the tires up destroying them.

    If you noticed in the race Lewis told the team “I can’t go any slower” the team had him racing to a delta time becuase they’re trying to save the tires. Or are they? I believe thier is another part of this equation and that is fuel. I believe the Mercedes is short filling the fuel cell to get weight off the car. Okay, now this works against mechanical grip as the weight you removed is typically towards the back of the car where the fuel cell is. Now you’re taking away rear traction which aids mechinical grip as the car was designed to work. Now you are working against your design…