Mercedes pair talk about the difficult 2022 F1 season where by testing they understood that it won’t be easy and how they got through it.

For Mercedes, it was a bitter sweet season for the Brackley outfit in all honesty. Constructors’ champions for the previous eight seasons, along with seven drivers titles, they had a paltry one win in 2022, but did come within a whisker of runners up spot in the standings against Ferrari.

As has been very much documented, Mercedes were affected like the other nine teams by the dreaded and mysterious porpoising. But during winter testing, the team were struck by issues and while many people reckoned they were ‘sandbagging’, it soon became very much evident that it was not the case and there was a far more serious scenario going on.

“I am not sure exactly what we said but to be honest the signs were there from the very, very early running, even on the filming day that we did at Silverstone,” said Andrew Shovlin. “We then went for three days in Barcelona and the car was not that competitive but we were expecting a big update that we were going to bring to Bahrain and that was the point that we realised that we had a serious issue at that Bahrain Test”.

“We put the update kit on and it simply didn’t make the car go quicker. Now, it’s been an interesting year from there on, but it has been a lot of work to do to try and get on top of those problems,” summed up Shovlin. It certainly turned out to be an interesting year to say the least.  If anything, it was a massive wake-up call for the team, a culture shock even.

James Vowles, who like Shovlin had an awful lot to do from Bahrain to Abu Dhabi gives his take on what was a massively cumbersome time for Mercedes who spent a good 65% of the season on the back foot. “There was certainly some tough moments in the year,” said the Mercedes chief strategist. “I think personally I remember Imola was a real low point, it was a sprint race and we really suffered”.

“We struggled there, we were fighting back towards the back of the grid really at certain points. The main thing is this: If you separate it into two separate items. The first is how we actually perform with the car we got and I think we did a fairly good job with that all the way through towards the end of the year”.

“We were certainly picking up points that were given to us or awarded to us by Ferrari or other teams when we could and were able to stay fairly close to a second place in the Constructors’ Championship. The second is the learning that we could build through the race, so, every single race that we have obviously provides you a learning opportunity and I think we did a very good job throughout the year of understanding where our weaknesses were and how to build on that towards the end of the year”.

“Cars that were fighting for P10, P8 or perhaps even out in Q2, Q1 at the end of the year were able to fight for race wins and that’s really an example to the culture that we have here. I think everyone knows this externally but as an example of that failure is not just always an option but it is actually something that is almost rewarded, it makes us stronger as a result of it, as long as you can deal with it in the right way”.

“We have a number of values here as do most companies but really the most important things other than innovation and excellence is how we stick together as a team, how we fight together and how we come back stronger as a result of it,” summed up Vowles.

Basically, Mercedes never gave up, they really did not and it stood to them. George Russell’s debut win in Interlagos was their undoubted highlight plus they were overall very consistent with so many podiums but just not always ‘there’ at the sharp end.

However, they turned it around massively and if this keeps up into the 2023 campaign, another Red Bull / Mercedes battle could occur notwithstanding the progress that Ferrari made in 2022. The season therefore should be massively competitive.

Here’s Toto Wolff on F1 podcast

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Here’s George Russell on Mercedes’ progress

Here’s Toto Wolff on 2021 emotions to 2022

Here’s Toto Wolff on new female series

Here’s Lewis Hamilton on no attitude change since 2021

Here’s James Vowles describing Mercedes’ 2022 in four words

Here’s Lewis Hamilton and George Russell’s earning

Here’s Lewis Hamilton on starting and ending 2022 in same way