Lewis Hamilton may not be confident of Mercedes turning things around quickly with the development of their W13, but F1’s Technical Consultant, Rob Smedley, holds a different view entirely. It’s been a frustrating start to the season for Mercedes in the opening two races.
While they bagged an unexpected podium in Bahrain, the team were brought back down to earth in Saudi Arabia. Hamilton struggled all weekend last time out as the seven-time world champion failed to get out of Q1 before finishing 10th in the race.
George Russell has been more consistent over both races, finishing fourth and fifth respectively. But Mercedes are currently trailing both Red Bull and Ferrari for race pace by some distance heading into the Australian Grand Prix.
Both drivers have aired their concerns on how long it will take the team to catch those fighting at the front. However, Smedley doesn’t think it will be long until Mercedes find the right package on their W13.
“Mercedes would be the first to admit that they haven’t got it right,” Smedley told Reuters. “Ferrari have done a really good job in moving up and being right there with Red Bull.
“But I would expect that to change now more than any other year as people find big chunks of performance in lots of different areas. The development phase of the car is at such an immature stage, the cars will change significantly from the first race to the final race.
“There’s going to be a very, very strong development curve on those cars.”
Speaking ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix, Hamilton stated that he doesn’t think Mercedes will be fighting for race wins until May at the earliest.
Mercedes’ extreme sidepod design caught the eyes of many at pre-season testing, but the developments haven’t worked so far. Toto Wolff, though, has vowed the reigning constructors’ champions will be doing everything they can to speed up the process in returning to the front.
“We were right in the middle of those fun games in the front and, talking as a Formula 1 stakeholder, benefitting from a great show that is really spectacular to look at,” he said. But, on the other side, [it] is extremely painful to be not part of those fun games – and by quite a chunk of lap time deficit.
“We’re not going to rest until we are back in the mix. But it’s no fun at all. [It’s an] exercise in humility and it’s gonna make us stronger, even though it’s not funny right now.”