Mercedes seeking answers after ‘most competitive’ Friday got away

Mercedes is trying to understand how it went from having the “most competitive” spell of its 2022 Formula 1 season so far on Friday in Miami to another tough race weekend.

George Russell was fastest in FP2 and Mercedes looked to have taken a step forward compared to the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull, but the final practice session on Saturday saw the team well off the pace and Russell failed to make it to Q3. Although the team eventually rescued a pair of top-six finishes, technical director Mike Elliott says Mercedes doesn’t know why the pace disappeared.

“That’s a really good question and it’s a question that we are trying to answer at the moment,” Elliott said. “I think if you were to look at Friday’s running it was probably the most competitive we’ve been at any point through the season so far.

“Between Friday and Saturday we will have made some changes and actually those changes were fairly minor, but there were also changes in conditions and we need to go through all of that data, extract as much understanding as we can and use that to move forward over the next couple of races.”

Mercedes brought some upgrades to Miami and Elliott says the ones designed to simply increase performance worked as planned, but that the team continues to try and find fixes to its porpoising issues that are proving so challenging.

“I think it is important to differentiate two things: One is the normal upgrade path and the other one is fixing the issues that we are having with bouncing and other things that are compromising the performance. So, the wings that we brought definitely brought us the performance that we were expecting and were a step forward.

“The experiments we were doing on track trying to understand the bouncing, we gathered a lot of data on Friday when we had strong performance and we gathered data through the race. As always, the engineers are pouring through that, gaining understanding. In fact, every time we run the car we learn something new and that is the aim of the game — to try and understand the car faster than our competitors.

“Although at the moment we are on the back foot a little bit with that, there is a huge amount of effort, a huge amount of work going in trying to understand how we improve the car, how do we find that next little step forward, how do we get rid of the bouncing? How do we get back to being competitive relative to the front-running team, which is where we want to be?”