Mercedes Technical Director, Andrew Shovlin, revealed that a “wacky” setup is a probable cause for their woes at the Redbull Ring.
With Redbull’s win at the Styrian GP, they have now had 4 consecutive wins, and it is the first time since their dominant era with Sebastian Vettel. Mercedes has been trying to catch up to Redbull’s progress since pre-season testing, and with the development of their 2022 car are struggling to deploy sufficient resources into their W12. Given their situation, the best way in which they can maximize their package is through strengthening the car’s setup.
Shovlin supported as he explained: “One big area is understanding this set-up departure that we’ve taken, and whether or not that has made life more difficult for the rear tires in the long run. Some of that we can just do by data. But we’ll see whether or not that is work that can carry into the Friday of the race weekend.
“But fundamentally, the car is very similar. There are additional challenges of extracting the grip out of that C5 compound, the very softest rubber, on a single lap. That might be quite challenging if it is very hot here.
“The other thing is, we’re not looking for massive margins. I think we were down by a couple of tenths in the race, and there was a bit of degradation. But the solution to both of those problems might be the same thing.
“We’ll just try to get the rears running a bit cooler, and look after the rubber a bit better, and you may find that both of those things come our way. So we’ll focus on those areas, and it’ll just be a case of seeing if we can come back a bit stronger in a few days’ time.”
Tire wear is an area Mercedes seemed to have struggled with since the French GP. The race at Styria, once again, revealed high wear on the Mercedes’ tires. It was prominent as Bottas revealed in the post-race press conference that he was struggling to lap Daniel Ricciardo in the closing laps of the race due to high tire degradation for his W12.
Shovlin revealed a plausible reason why their tire degradation was rapid at Styria.
“We were exploring a fairly wacky direction with the set-up, a radical approach which I think was maybe a bit better on a single lap. The question that remains is whether we’ve hurt our degradation, and we need to look at that in the next day or two.
“I don’t really want to go into details. Essentially, the window that we work in was much, much wider. We were sort of going further than we’ve ever gone, and just really understanding the effects of that.
“Lewis, before he came here, was doing a lot of work in the driver-in-loop simulator, and it looked like an interesting direction. But an important part of this year for us is adapting well to every track. We do need to be a bit brave and original with set-up direction to do that.”