The signs at the end of winter testing all seemed positive. Both Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg were topping the time sheets as it looked like Mercedes GP had finally found its rhythm. Once the season began in Australia however, it all came apart at the axle. While many could imagine that Red Bull would be the car to beat, you would have to think that Mercedes would at least be able to challenge Ferrari or McLaren at some point. We are now half way through the season and that has not happened. At the end of the day, Mercedes is losing the battle not only on track but also in the engineering department. The Brackley based team is behind the 8-ball and it shows.
The team was able to finally launch a new exhaust design this past weekend at Silverstone and there was maybe a glimmer of hope that the ship had righted itself. However, another costly mistake from Schumacher seen a fifth and ninth place finish for the team. The FiA has also addressed the engine mapping issue for constant exhaust which has not helped their cause. The fact is though, Mercedes are trying to respond with this design as opposed to lead. Everything they have done to this point has been reactionary to Red Bull and McLaren. On top of being reactive, the technical developments being made are in response to a poorly designed machine. Overheating engines and shredding of rear tires are just examples of problems needing fixed and detracting away from forward development. This is not something we are accustomed to with Brawn at the helm.
There have been outside variables such as the Pirelli tires for example. The way they have been designed to react during the race to promote overtaking has surly made things difficult. DRS and KERS have also introduced new variables. Will it work or won’t it? The car depends on these items to work for maximum overtaking opportunities. Mercedes is not in a position such as Red Bull to go without. Adrian Newey has developed a phenomenal car as always and it does not rely on one particular system to win. It is designed fast and has amazing drivers that know how to get the most out of it. Conversely, the Mercedes drivers don’t have the confidence in their equipment and it shows on track.
The second half of the season lends some promise to the German marque as they seem to be at a point where they CAN move forward. It will now be up to Rosberg and Schumacher to earn their pay check and produce results as more upgrades become available.