Question marks over how Mercedes W11 handles hot weather
Mercedes is unsure how well the 2020 car will handle upcoming warm-weather races, says technical director James Allison.
The German team has enjoyed the perfect start to the season, winning all three races and taking three pole positions.
Of the three races, the latter two took place in cooler conditions, with clouds and some rain present in both. The only one to feature warmer weather was the season opener.
That also happened to be the race in which Mercedes struggled most. Lewis Hamilton’s P4 finish meant that it was the only one so far where both drivers didn’t make the podium.
Given this, James Allison is unsure if running on hotter weather is going to be an issue for the W11 going forward.
“I’d note that we’ve had two quite cool tracks,” he told Autosport.com.
“So far it was warmish in the first race of the year, but that was also the race where we were least convincing.”
“So we would like to find out just how swift we can be when the track is roasting hot, and whether or not we can still show the sort of tyre management and pace under those conditions that we’ve been lucky enough to show in the opening races of the year.”
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After such a long time away from the sport, many teams have struggled with reliability since returning, shown the nine DNFs at the opening race.
Both Mercedes cars have finished all three races, but Alisson says the team still has doubts that that will be the case every Grand Prix.
“I think anyone who had sat with us through the first weekend of the year wouldn’t have entertained the idea of a Mercedes procession at that stage. They would have seen us all desperately worried about the car, and its ability to finish a single race,” he added.
“Every car on the grid has a sword of Damocles hanging over it pretty much every lap, because they are all experimental vehicles with any number of ways that they can catch you out, or actually, you disappoint yourself for not having seen it coming.
“We’re only too well aware of the billion frailties that are there, even in a product that is pretty strong, like our car and driver combo that we’ve got this year.”
In terms of raw pace, the reigning champions are enjoying a bigger lead over the rest of the field than they have for the past three seasons.
Many feel that that is more due to the struggles of usual rivals Red Bull and Ferrari, and this is a view Alisson shares. He also expects them to close the gap before the end of the year.
“We’re a sneak ahead than we were in the overall power of the team this year than we were the year before. However, I would say that that might be more to do with the competition having a little bit of a tougher time, rather than us having done something remarkable.
“And the relevance of that is that normally you can fix something that has gone a little bit wrong, and so the gap might be big now, but it will close down very quickly, [for example] if that sort of snappiness that you sometimes see on a Red Bull can be softened.”
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