Written By Uche Dozie
The score card for Mercedes At Barcelona shows dominance for the Eight times formula one constructors champions.
Mercedes who sits third after five races have been nothing close to their best. In fact, none of their driver has finished in pole wether at the qualifiers or at the main race.
In the first race of the season, it was a second and third place finish for the Mercedes team, but from the second race the team’s performances moved on a downward slope direction.
With the seven times world champion, Lewis Hamilton failing to make race points a couple of times, the issue becomes worse.Though George Russell has maintained a top five position since the start of 2022, that has only helped to keep the F1 team in the top three behind leaders, Ferrari and Red Bull.
With Bahrain, Saudi, Imola, Australian and Miami Grand Prix gone, one wonders which of the next circuit will produce the magic that will propel Mercedes to the great heights they are known for.
Mercedes have basically been in the shadows of Ferrari and RedBull with Defending champion Max Verstappen and leading driver, Charles Leclerc spearheading the wins for their teams. Mercedes have accumulated ninety-five points as against Red Bull’s one hundred fifty-one and Ferrari’s one hundred and fifty-seven.
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For Leclerc, he has maintained a pole position at every qualifier winning two races in the five races done this year. The French driver is really on a rollercoaster ride this season and the only obstacle right now for him is the Dutchman, Max Verstappen.
Verstappen, for his part has won three races showing that which made him champion last year. A win at Saudi Arabia, Imola and Miami tells the tale of a man raring to go and defend his title.
The reverse has been the case for Mercedes drivers who have struggled as they have not even been able to beat other Ferrari and Red Bull drivers, Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez who have so far faired well let alone Verstappen or Leclerc.
A Gleamer Of Hope
Though not the actual race or qualifiers, but Russell and his teammate Lewis Hamilton performance to place first and fourth respectively during Friday practice in Florida, appears to signal that Mercedes were making some progress. It seems like a one step at a time scenario and Barcelona could be the beginning of something new to come.
Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya have been next to home for Mercedes. A place where they have seven wind out of the eight races featured in Barcelona- 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021. Mercedes missed a chance to win only in 2016 following a collision between Lewis Hamilton and Nicco Roseburg.
Achieving The Goal
One word has continued to pop out this season after a race weekend and that word is porpoising. Porpoising has seen cars unable to keep stability while racing and Mercedes are the worst hit so far with their drivers complaining in almost all races.
Well, news have it that upgrades are going on and this race may just be that litmus test Mercedes needs to put things in order.
In a look to what could possibly be done to solve the porpoising issues of the car, it is believed that the “Pre-season simulation of the car with the ‘zero sidepods’ update suggested a big performance gain over the standard sidepod spec which tested in Spain.
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That simulation continues to suggest that if the car could be run at the lower ride height for which it’s designed, the performance would be spectacular enough to allow the car to dominate even Red Bull and Ferrari.” according to Sky sports.
Mercedes chances of winning starts with emerging victorious at the qualifiers. The team has not been able to win at the qualifiers thus far. The qualifiers do not guarantee victory, but it is a springboard to getting the job done.
A position outside the top five in most of the qualifiers have seen Hamilton and Russell struggle to make the top three or four in the main races. Hence, the team’s qualifying time must improve.
The Hamilton winning aura is also there and it can’t be ruled out. Though the seven-time champion has struggled to cut it this term, the British driver has won 2/3s of all the Spanish Grand Prix since 2014, so he’s got some remarkable form and understanding at the track.
In addition to this, the Barcelona circuit is mostly slow-medium speed and quite technical, so unlikely to cause too many porpoising woes. Combine this with Mercedes’ strong showing in Barcelona testing, and this might be an early shout for a strong result from car 44.
This may just be the race that will set the balling rolling for the illustrious team of Mercedes, Saturday and Sunday will tell.
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I am a huge advocate of Women’s football after covering the Nigeria Women Football Leagues (NWFL) since 2019 which earned me the award as the Journalist of the Season. An unbiased football writer with penchant for women’s in sports and historical analysis.