Mercedes chasing fix to ‘fundamental’ issue

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Mercedes is searching for a fix to a “fundamental” issue that has hampered its pace at the start of the new Formula 1 season.

For the third consecutive year, Mercedes has failed to launch a competitive car out of the blocks having slipped back in the pecking order following the introduction of new technical regulations in 2022.

The Brackley-based outfit has won just a single Grand Prix in that time, courtesy of George Russell in Brazil two and a half years ago.

Reflecting on the recent race weekend in Saudi Arabia, Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin admitted that both Lewis Hamilton and Russell “went off in different directions” regarding their set-ups after FP1.

However, the issues that the duo faced during the race were largely the same.

“The learning of it [different set-ups] is just that when you change things you can see the differences,” Shovlin said.

“One car making changes, you can see how it performs run to run. We can also look at the global performance of the two cars but fundamentally the limitations that we had in qualifying and the race, they were broadly the same for both.

“So it’s telling you it’s not a small difference, it’s not a tiny bit of camber or a spring or bar here and there. It’s something more fundamental that we need to dig into and understand.”

Mercedes set to ‘experiment’ in Australia

Russell and Hamilton crossed the line in sixth and ninth respectively in Jeddah, with Hamilton’s race compromised by extending his opening stint.

Mercedes has since admitted that double-stacking both cars under an early Safety Car would have marked the best strategy to maximise its results.

Ahead of the upcoming round in Australia, Shovlin asserted that Mercedes is picking through its findings as it aims to turn around its form.

“There’s definitely data that we’re picking through from Jeddah,” he said.

“We’re also looking at data from Bahrain race, Bahrain test and we will come up with a plan for how we approach free practice in Melbourne.

“But it’s not just based on what we did in Jeddah. There’s a lot of work going on within aerodynamics department, vehicle dynamics department.

“We’re trying to design some experiments there that will hopefully give us a direction that’s good for performance.”

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