The problems Mercedes have had extracting performance from their car have prompted them to try “unconventional” approaches which paid off with George Russell’s pole position in Hungary.
Team principal Toto Wolff described how the team has been forced to depart from its ordinary development techniques in order to master its W13.
“This season we have done unconventional things,” he said. “I remember having a chat with a very clever lady in aerodynamics and she said ‘if you would have told me last year that we are putting a floor on the car that we haven’t drawn in the wind tunnel, I would have said we are never going to do this’. And we did and everybody was proud of the results.”
Mercedes took a similarly aggressive approach to preparing their car this weekend, said Wolff. After a poor showing in practice, Russell took a shock pole position while Lewis Hamilton experienced DRS failure and qualifying seventh.
“[It’s] the same thing every weekend and more so yesterday and today, we’ve tried things,” said Wolff. “This is a data-based sport. But if you can’t rely on the data because they don’t correlate from the virtual world, from the tunnel, from CFD, from the simulations with what’s happening in real-time on the track, you’ve just got to try things and find correlations. Basically reverse-engineer correlation and this is what we’ve done today and had some positive results.”
Following several setbacks during 2022, Wolff wants to see how competitive their car is in tomorrow’s race before declaring their latest approach a success.
“This season has been an oscillation between depression and exuberance, sometimes changing from day to day. Yesterday we tried things that didn’t work at all but they gave us a little bit more direction for today.
“To be honest it’s a painful exercise this year and today’s one of the days where against all of the tendencies of the season, where we’ve been really bad in qualifying but performing well on the Sunday, we’ve actually unlocked some potential in the car. If we can prove tomorrow that our race pace hasn’t suffered then I would see us back in a solid position.”
Wolff hopes today’s result doesn’t prove to be “another false dawn” for the team “and we come to the realisation tomorrow and Spa that it didn’t reap the benefits that we were hoping to have.”
“In that respect, let’s just wait and see where this is going,” he concluded.
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