Mercedes are no strangers to downplaying their own performance ahead of an upcoming season, but after pre-season testing this year Lewis Hamilton appeared to be genuinely concerned that the ‘Silver Arrows’ will not be competing for wins in the first few races of the 2022 season.
Eight consecutive time constructors title holder’s Mercedes turned heads when they unveiled the new-look W13 car, with radically redesigned side pods and a reshaped floor, but this did not stop their car from porpoising.
When a car porpoises, it bounces as it loses and regains downforce, and this is just one factor that Mercedes have been struggling with as they failed to impress in Bahrain.
“At the moment, I don’t think we will be competing for wins,” said a disheartened Hamilton on the afternoon of Saturday, March 12 before adding that “Obviously next week we will get a much better showing of our pace, but I think (other) people will surprise maybe. People keep talking about us talking ourselves down, but it’s a bit different this year.”
“We are not the quickest at the moment, think Ferrari look to be the quickest, perhaps Red Bull and then maybe us or McLaren, I don’t know. But we are currently not at the top.”
The situation seems similar to that in Bahrain last year, when Hamilton appeared to struggle with the handling of his W12 car, only to beat Max Verstappen to victory at the same venue.
However, Hamilton feels that the situation is different and more complex this year, saying that “It feels a lot different, It’s not going to look as good as it did last year, with the difficult session we had… and then switch over to the race. I think we have far bigger challenges this time and turnarounds that will take a lot longer. From what I’m told, we have a lot of pace to find.”
“But there is potential within our car to get us there,” he added. “We’ve just got to learn to extract it and fix some of the problems, which is what we are working on. Everyone is doing such an incredible job back at the factory, working as hard as they can, but we have some hurdles to overcome.”
The engineers at Mercedes will be very busy over the coming days, as the season opening Bahrain Grand Prix fast approaches, with race day set for Sunday, March 20. Only time will tell if the issues can be resolved soon enough to keep Hamilton competitive, as he seeks to claim a historic eighth Drivers’ World Championship.