Formula 1: Can Mercedes play catch-up with their car development?

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Formula 1 (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Formula 1 (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) /

Ever since 2014, Mercedes have entered Formula 1 seasons with championship-leading packages. Such a dream is no more as the powerhouse attempts to scrape back pace.

For the first time in the recent history of Formula 1, Mercedes not only have a flawed aerodynamic package, but the slowest engine on the grid.

Being the only team to use the radical “size zero” sidepod concept during testing and sticking with it for the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix ate Bahrain International Circuit last weekend, Mercedes have inherited the label of “best of the rest” while they attempt to right their wrongs as quickly as possible.

Related Story. 5 mistakes that cost Lewis Hamilton the title. light

The major worry for Mercedes though is whether these issues can be solved in due time or if they’re central philosophical flaws in the package which are relatively unfixable.

The major drawback of the “size zero” sidepod which discouraged Guenther Steiner and Haas from developing it was the massive amount of drag being produced by the rear tires.

Combined with a power unit that has clearly struggled to adjust to E10 fuel, Mercedes need to implement any drag-reducing concept they can develop.

Having already beaten the rest of the grid to the punch in regard to wing-mirror development, the eight-time reining constructor champions need to quickly identify other potential loopholes in the regulations to recover top-end speed.

With no sidepod to redirect airflow as well as a below-average power unit, the Mercedes becomes a sitting duck on lengthy straights. Also struggling with overall rear downforce and tire management, Mercedes need to make a Herculean effort not comparable to any season in their history.

Next. Top 25 Formula 1 drivers of all-time. dark

Jeddah Corniche Circuit, the site of race two in Saudi Arabia, is built to punish Mercedes shortfalls in aerodynamic philosophy, and it will render them utterly uncompetitive on the lengthy, winding straights. Frankly, Mercedes may be competing with Haas for the “best of the rest” label on the power-centric circuits, which make up more and more of the Formula 1 calendar from year to year.