Mercedes chief Toto Wolff has insisted that he has an ‘easy’ way to overcome issues suffered by Lewis Hamilton and George Russell in the first five Grands Prix this season. Hamilton and Russell have lacked performance in 2022 and have trailed behind their Ferrari and Red Bull counterparts.
Mercedes have struggled with pace in the opening months, with Hamilton ominously insisting after Sunday’s Miami Grand Prix that the W13 car is no faster than it was at the season-opener in Bahrain.
Hamilton and Russell finished sixth and fifth respectively in Miami. Seven-time world champion Hamilton has already ruled out winning a record eighth title, with Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen engrossed in a battle at the top of the drivers’ leaderboard.
“I think there is an easy route out and you just say, ‘We are not able to generate it over the floor’ and you patch it up, make it stiffer and see where you end up in performance,” Wolff said of the W13’s performance, implying that Mercedes will continue to take risks as they develop their car.
“That is probably faster than where we are at now, but we haven’t yet capitulated and gone back to the simpler solutions.”
Building flexibility into the floor of the vehicle could help Mercedes overcome some of their porpoising problems. But Wolff believes the team must get the balance correct.
“I think that everybody tries to chase downforce with a degree of ground-effect and that, obviously, is a tricky balance to get,” he continued.
“Because if you are able to put it right, your car is going to be very quick and generally [have] downforce. But if you are not there or you get it wrong, it is what is happening to us at the moment.”
Hamilton has recorded just one podium finish this season, coming third in Bahrain. Team-mate Russell has generally outperformed the legendary driver.
“Unfortunately we are at the same speed as we were in the first race. We haven’t improved in these five races but I am hopeful, we have to keep trying and keep working hard,” Hamilton bemoaned.
“There is potential in the car and she is fast but we just don’t understand how to unlock the potential. It is a car that is super difficult to drive, dipping in and out of the performance window – more out than in – and dissecting the data with a scalpel is a painful process.
“The data sometimes doesn’t show what the drivers tell us and suddenly they have their hands full with a car that is not nice, comfortable or predictable to drive.”