Mercedes Tackles W15 High-Speed Corner Woes

Mercedes Tackles W15 High-Speed Corner Woes


Mercedes F1 is beginning to unravel the challenges presented by its W15, as detailed by Andrew Shovlin in the team’s debrief video. The team’s performance director highlights that high-speed corners pose a problem for the car, attributing a lack of balance and performance in such turns.

“It’s quite rare for us to run both cars identically,” Shovlin stated. “In fact, we started off fairly similar. So, the balance wouldn’t have been too different across the speed range.”

“After the FP1, the drivers shared their feedback. At that point, they took different paths. Part of their complaints involved the car’s bouncing. Thus, we explored ways to mitigate this. Adjusting the ride height, playing with stiffness, and all seem effective.”

“We also attempted to adjust the car’s balance across the entire speed spectrum. How does the car perform at low speed? What’s it like at high speed? The balance in that session was probably not as good as in the FP1.”

“From there, we began to converge back to our original direction upon arrival. But the key takeaway is, when you make changes, you can see the differences.”

Similar “limits” in both qualifying and race

Shovlin explains that the behavioral differences were not due to minor changes: “Thus, when a car is modified, one can observe how it behaves from one run to the next. Essentially, the limits we encountered in both qualifying and the race were broadly the same.”

“So, it’s not a slight difference, not just a bit of camber or a spring or a bar here and there, it’s something more fundamental that we need to delve into and understand.”

The team identified three main reasons for the W15’s shortcomings in fast corners: “One is that the balance wasn’t very good. The very fast turns where walls are close are where a driver needs confidence, and we often experienced oversteer if they really pushed the tires.”

“You can easily imagine how unsettling that is for the drivers. It played a role in both qualifying and the race. In qualifying, we also suffered from some bouncing. It was less of an issue in the race.”

“There’s more fuel in the car, you’re going a bit slower, and it seemed to calm it down, and it wasn’t such a problem. The major issue is that we don’t have enough grip.”

“This is one of the areas we’re focusing on this week, as Melbourne’s corners are similar in nature. We’re putting a lot of effort into understanding why we seem to lack the grip that some of our closest competitors have.”

Top Speed as a Strong Suit

One of Mercedes’ strengths in Jeddah was its top speed, aided by a relatively light aerodynamic setup. Shovlin is adamant that the team must maintain this advantage at all costs and not compromise it by adding more downforce.

“In fact, we were one of the fastest cars, if not the fastest, in a straight line. What we could do is slow ourselves down in sectors 2 and 3 to try and make up some time in sector 1.”

“But ideally, we’d like to maintain this and find a way to improve sector 1 through means other than adding a lot more downforce to the car and paying the price on the straight.”

To make progress in Melbourne, the team plans to use data from the early part of the season: “There’s data we’re gathering from Jeddah. We’re also reviewing data from the Bahrain race and testing, and we will develop a plan for approaching free practice in Melbourne.”

“But it’s not just based on what we did in Jeddah. There’s a lot of work happening within the aerodynamics department, the vehicle dynamics department, trying to design experiments that will hopefully give us a direction that will be beneficial for performance.”

Mercedes Tackles W15 High-Speed Corner Woes. Mercedes Tackles W15 High-Speed Corner Woes


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