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Mercedes sound the alarm: Ferrari and Red Bull ‘significantly’ ahead

Mercedes believe Ferrari and Red Bull have a “significant” advantage at the front of the Formula 1 pack for the start of the 2022 season.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen led the way in Friday evening’s second practice session in Bahrain, edging out Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc by just under a tenth of a second, while Mercedes were off the pace with their W13.

Amid violent porpoising, particularly on Hamilton’s car, Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director, Andrew Shovlin, explained what the reigning Constructors’ World Champions are doing in a bid to get on top of the issues.

“Our first session made use of the fact that we had two cars for the first time this year and chose to run them in different specifications,” said Shovlin, with Lewis Hamilton and new teammate George Russell splitting their programmes.

“That was a useful test and we got a clear read on which set-up and floor specification was best for the bouncing.

“However, we’re still struggling to get the rear of the car much lower and trying to do that gave the drivers a fairly bumpy time of it in the second session.”

A weekend of “damage limitation” for Mercedes

With Russell half a second off the pace, and Hamilton more than a second adrift, the seven-time World Champion has suggested that Mercedes are facing “much, much bigger problems” than they experienced in previous seasons.

Shovlin offered a similar outlook as he predicted a weekend of “damage limitation”.

“In terms of pace, we have a significant gap to Ferrari and Red Bull, especially Max on the long run,” added Shovlin.

“There are some relatively easy gains we might be able to make with the balance, but we’re not going to find more than a few tenths.

“More important is that we keep learning as we don’t seem to have understood the bouncing as well as some of the others. It may also be that we’re lacking a bit of car pace.

“We’re expecting a tough couple of days where we need to focus on damage limitation, but also continuing to experiment to see if we can find a better place to run the car.”


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