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Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin has fired a warning towards Ferrari and Red Bull by suggesting that his team could pull off a series of quick fixes before the next outing in Saudi Arabia this weekend. The Silver Arrows struggled to keep up with the heavy hitters during the season’s curtain-raiser in Bahrain before a stroke of luck landed Lewis Hamilton with an unlikely podium.
The extent of Mercedes’ issues became clear during Saturday qualifying when they struggled to make their mark at the top of the field. Hamilton battled hard to end up in fifth while George Russell blamed an out-lap mishap as his fast lap was only good enough to start ninth on the grid.
It was the same story after lights out too, with Red Bull and Ferrari both fighting it out at the top as Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc jousted for the lead. There was late drama, however, when both Red Bull cars were forced to retire.
Hamilton and Russell therefore came through to take third and fourth despite their clear pace disadvantage. The Ferrari duo of Leclerc and Carlos Sainz crowned the start of the year with a stunning one-two, confirming pre-season notions that they could steal a march in 2022.
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After the race, Shovlin suggested that Mercedes are eyeing up some quick fixes which could be completed over the next couple of races and help to close the gap in Jeddah.
“We just did a de-brief with the drivers and there is a lot of everything [wrong],” Shovlin told the F1 Nation podcast, “There’s bouncing, the balance is poor, there is a lack of low-speed grip, we’re struggling on traction, the drivability could be better, the tyre warm-up is not good enough, the car is a bit on the heavy side.
“There’s a lot to improve which gives us some encouragement. I think we’ll get some easy gains, there’s some low-hanging fruit and what we’re hoping is that we can get those in the next race or two.
“The factory are primed to bring everything they can in the next few days. If we’ve got something useful to bring to Jeddah, we’ll make sure we get it on the car.”
When one race finishes, another one lies on the horizon and F1’s star-studded grid are already preparing for the action to get back underway at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. The fast track in Jeddah will help Mercedes to avoid their grip issues on slow corners, but their porpoising dilemma could once again come into play.
Mercedes will not be the only team with a point to prove, however, as Red Bull’s strong pace could not be converted into points due to reliability issues. Verstappen and co already have ground to make up in the drivers’ and constructors’ standings despite having a prime opportunity to capitalise on the Silver Arrows’ struggles.
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