Mercedes’ Director of Trackside Engineering, Andrew Shovlin revealed the team realized the issued of their 2022 Formula 1 car the W13 from its early running.
Mercedes showed up with a conventional looking car at the first 2022 pre-season test in Barcelona, and finished the final day fastest of all.
The team however turned heads when they showed up for the second test in Bahrain with their “zero-pod” concept, which soon turned out to be a flop as the W13 was slow and viscously bouncy.
In a video on their YouTube channel, Mercedes responded to a question from a fan asking them when the realized their W13 had problems.
“To be honest the signs were there from the very, very early running, even on the filming day that we did at Silverstone,” Shovlin responded.
Mercedes hit by reality check in Bahrain pre-season test
“We then went for three days in Barcelona and the car was not that competitive,” he went on. “But we were expecting a big update that we were going to bring to Bahrain. That was the point that we realised that we had a serious issue, at that Bahrain test.
“We put the update kit on and it simply didn’t make the car go quicker,” the Mercedes engineer added.
Looking back on the baptism of fire the team went through with their precarious W13 over the course of the 2022 season, Mercedes managed to make some improvement with their car but not enough to be consistently fast and competitive.
“Now, it’s been an interesting year from there on, but it has been a lot of work to do to try and get on top of those problems,” Shovlin reflected.
The major step was Mercedes’ upgrade package for the Spanish Grand Prix, of which Shovlin said: “That was the one where we made the biggest step in getting on top of the aero bouncing phenomenon and we were able to have pretty good performance.
“But also it allowed us to see that once we’d solved that issue there was still other issues to solve with the ride of the car. It wasn’t very good over the bumps and it gave us the clarity to work on those next steps. Whilst it was only a small step in the right direction from a learning point of view it was a really important update,” he explained.
However, the Mercedes director is optimistic about his team’s chances for 2023, revealing they have been working hard on making sure the W13’s successor, the W14, doesn’t take on any of it’s nastiness.
Hope for 2023
“It’s fair to say that by the time you’ve got to the end of the season you’ve raced across a whole range of circuits, you should have pretty much understood all the issues and certainly by the end of the year,” he pointed out.
“Whilst we still had some problems with the car that were making us less competitive at some tracks those were not new problems, those were problems that we could anticipate and that have been there for quite a while.
“Now, the big body of work that’s been going on for the last number of months has been to make sure that those issues on the 13 don’t get carried into the 14. We made good progress there and you can see that in some of the later updates particularly the update that we brought to Austin just put us that bit closer to the front,” he revealed.
“A lot of our focus was making sure we can develop an update kit, bring it to the track and actually see it translate to performance and hopefully the culmination of that work will mean that we can get an altogether more competitive package together for next year,” Shovlin hoped.
Mercedes finished the 2022 season third in the Constructors’ Championship which they have previously dominated for eight straight years between 2014 and 2021.