Monaco GP 2022
After the high mid-level in Barcelona, Mercedes once again missed out on the top spot by seven tenths in Monaco. The engineers expected what looked like a throwback to the good old days. Monte Carlo was the most murderous place on the way back to the top.
Barcelona was a bright spot. Mercedes cut the difference to the top to an average of three tenths for all lap times. Even Lewis Hamilton was able to match Red Bull’s pace in the race, but no one noticed as he started the second lap 53secs late. Mercedes needed a regular racetrack to confirm the upward trend. But with Monte Carlo, I followed the most unusual route in the entire calendar.
The race in Spain has already shown progress despite everything, with the sore spot being the silver stocks. George Russell and Lewis Hamilton only lost their time in turns under 120 km/h with the profile hanging out. There are eleven such curves in Monte Carlo. Lots of bumps and hurdles lurking in the racing line. That’s not exactly the better side of the W13. not yet.
Five races down
In fast cornering, Mercedes already leads the level of Ferrari and Red Bull, but when more ground clearance and more suspension movement are required, the engineers are still inexperienced. “Our season has started again in Barcelona. Only now can we start looking at lap times and redefining the setup window. We are five races away in our competition. At a track like Monte Carlo, we first had to learn our car.”
Due to a lack of experience, Mercedes was set too low and too hard on the rumbling Monte Carlo track. The cars bounced so hard over the bumps that Lewis Hamilton suspected the liar was back. Which of course has nothing to do with the aerodynamic oscillation effect.
“The cars hit the ground because they were so stiff,” Wolff explained. The drivers had to take a lot of risks to make a big improvement in time. “Even with a perfect lap, we wouldn’t have gotten closer than six tenths of the cars ahead,” Hamilton lamented.
Stronger in the race than in the lap
Therefore, Mercedes deliberately and drastically changed the setup between the first and second practice session on Friday in order to achieve the greatest possible learning effect. “We then compiled the information for Saturday and did some fine-tuning,” chief engineer Andrew Shovlin explained. It was better but not good enough. In qualifying, George Russell was trailing first by 0.732 seconds.
This is about the same distance Barcelona covered in one lap of the previous race, Schuvelin remembers. “We were much closer to that in the race. The long distances on Friday really indicated that we would look stronger on Sunday.” The question is whether Russell and Hamilton can do it from sixth and eighth on the grid as they did at Barcelona. Overtaking in Monte Carlo is a gamble even with new cars.
Team boss Toto Wolff stated: “Nothing from what we learned in Barcelona can help us in Monte Carlo. That’s why the result was almost predictable. We can fight for fifth and sixth again. Today Norris beat us there.” “Ground clearance was our biggest limitation today,” Russell confirmed. “We can’t be complacent about sixth on the grid, but it was the best we could get from our group.”
Hamilton in the wrong engine position
Russell put up a training duel against Hamilton at 4:3. He is a personal endorsement of the team’s newcomer but not too much complacency. “Our drivers are currently more focused on getting the car back to the front. As long as we haven’t made it through, the internal fencing is secondary,” said Shovlin.
Hamilton searched for the error in himself: “I should have done my first lap better, but I started to put the wrong engine. Then the red flags slowed me down because of Perez’s accident.”
Looking to the future, it will be some time before Mercedes becomes a winning car again. Internally, don’t expect that before the England Grand Prix. Because the following two racetracks also have a strange situation. “Baku and Montreal won’t get much easier. After all, the straits are longer and we’ve caught them there.”