F1: Mercedes team appears to be choking

by Mark Cipolloni

With Aldo Costa no longer designing their race cars, Mercedes has been struggling. Costa designed superior cars that no one could beat, and Lewis Hamilton won 6 of his 7 World Titles driving his cars.

Last year was a disaster and this year is not getting off to a good start.

Mercedes will be burning the midnight oil tonight after opening an investigation into its baffling drop in performance on day two of Formula 1’s pre-season test in Bahrain that saw George Russell only 13th out of 17 drivers and Hamilton 15th out of 17.

Mercedes has admitted to being left confused about why things turned around so strangely during the second day of action, and said there was some urgency to get answers before the final day begins.

Trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin, who was seen in deep discussion with team boss Toto Wolff after the session, said: “We’ve not had a strong second day; stopping on track with a reliability issue wasn’t great and we have struggled to get the car balanced well across the changing conditions.

“We’ve got some investigations going on to understand why this has been such a challenge today when yesterday it was fairly straightforward. That work will continue into the night and no doubt we’ll understand more come the morning.

“It will be interesting tomorrow to see if we can understand the drop in performance and mitigate the lost track time.”

Speaking to German media, Wolff claimed the car was suffering from a ‘strange loss of downforce’ at the front axle, which has yet to be identified.

The team boss hopes that a solution to the problem can be found overnight, but admitted to Auto Motor Und Sport: “We are a bit lost, as we don’t know where we stand right now.”

We explained the reason for Mercedes lack of pace so far in this article. It’s two drivers are not talented enough to drive a loose race car, and unless the team can dial the oversteer out of the car, it’s going to be another long season for Mercedes.

Saturday is the final day of Pre-season testing and the team is choking.