Mercedes dominated their rivals during an unparalleled eight-year winning streak in Formula One and were rarely out of contention for a victory in any of the 160 races from 2014 to the end of 2021. Lewis Hamilton’s shocking exit from qualifier 1 has not only surprised the f1 enthusiasts, but also the entire world.
While a new era of Formula One began in 2022 with drastically different cars and rules, it was their supremacy that made them the apparent favorites for this year.
However, Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton have already suffered a humiliating Q1 exit in qualifying and confess they are “a long way off” rivals Ferrari and Red Bull in the first two exhilarating races of the new season.
The Mercedes is fine and truly on the back foot heading towards the Australian GP.
Mercedes’ start and end to the 2022 season vs others: Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas
|First two rounds of 2020||First two rounds of 2021||First two rounds of 2022|
|Best Qualifying||1st (Bottas, Australian GP Hamilton, Styrian GP)||1st (Lewis Hamilton, Emilia Romagna GP)||5th (Hamilton, Bahrain GP)|
|Best Race||1st (Bottas Australian GP Hamilton, Styrian GP)||1st (Lewis Hamilton, Bahrain GP)||3rd (Hamilton, Bahrain GP)|
|Championship Position||1st||1st||2nd(-40 off the leader)|
When did Mercedes’ problems begin?
Mercedes’ problems were clear even before the first race in 2022.
Following a stable first test in Barcelona, Mercedes drew attention ahead of the second test in Bahrain with a stunningly sleek new look for their W13 car, which many – including most in the paddock – anticipated to seeing a team with so much experience in navigating new regulations find instant speed.
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The ‘interesting difficulty’ that is holding the team back is porpoising.
Mercedes has had greater problems than the rest with the ‘porpoising’ phenomena, which occurs when a vehicle rapidly bounces on its suspension at high speeds. This was not shown in the simulator, and Mercedes believes it is the root of 99 percent of their difficulties.
While all teams have dealt with this to some extent to begin the new year, Red Bull and, to a lesser extent, Ferrari have mastered it, and Mercedes were frequently a second or two behind those vehicles during the most recent race in Saudi Arabia.
Trying to get a little faster at the top? The W13 returns to its original position. To increase performance, lower the car’s speed. The problem is exacerbated.
What occurred to Lewis Hamilton?
Lewis Hamilton’s failure to qualify at the first hurdle in Jeddah, where he could only manage 16th as he exited Q1 for the first time in well over a decade on pure pace alone, has to be the biggest surprise of the season so far.
Hamilton was soundly thrashed by new teammate Russell, and he made a dejected figure during Sunday’s race, in which he only scored a single point. While he managed a podium in Bahrain, courtesy of a double Red Bull DNF, his quest for an unprecedented eighth championship is already stalling.
Can Mercedes bounce back and when will they fix the issue?
Mercedes is planning phased upgrades over the next few races, with the first one coming this weekend in Melbourne for the return of the Australian GP, which should at least provide them some performance.
However, this might not be a fast fix. Well, it all is just another fascinating story at the beginning of this new season.