Mercedes: “We have to start clawing back that gap to the front”

© LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

Mercedes’ Motorsport Strategy Director James Vowles says the Bahrain Grand Prix has so far been Mercedes’ “most competitive race”, but for every race the team now has “a plan of action of what we need to test”.

Despite its significant problems Mercedes has been facing so far in 2022, George Russell and Lewis Hamilton managed to finish the Australian Grand Prix in P3 and P4 respectively.

In the race the team’s performance seemed to be improved a bit, but James Vowles says it’s down to a combination of track characteristics and actual improvements with the car.

“I think the truth lies between these two factors,” the Briton explained.

“Track to track, definitely the performance moves up and down between Ferrari, Red Bull, ourselves, McLaren, for example.

“You can see teams moving up and down between all of those different circuits, as the circuit characteristics [and] the downforce level either suits or doesn’t suit a characteristic of their car.

“We’ve also made steps and we’ve been trying to make steps on our car every single race to move it forward and understand it.

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“In terms of where we were though in Melbourne, we have to face the reality: we were a second down in qualifying relative to Ferrari and in the race, [Charles] Leclerc was in a league of his own.

“Leclerc wasn’t challenged by Verstappen at the restart; just a few laps in Verstappen had already dropped a few seconds back.

“Then, obviously, [in his second stint Max] wasn’t there, and the Red Bull suffered large degradation on the Medium tyre but, on the Hard, were much faster.

“Bahrain ended up being still, to this point in our season, our most competitive race, as an example, as a gap relative to the front.

“Every race, though, that we move forward, we have a plan of action of what we need to test, try and develop on that car, and I am sure all of our competitors have the same thing.

“But the key is this: we have to start clawing back that gap to the front,” Vowles concluded.

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