Mercedes chief strategist James Vowles and track chief engineer Andrew Shovlin believe their team has yet to figure out what the solution is to rear-end stability problems that have made it difficult for their drivers to get maximum speed out of the new Mercedes F1 W12.
Mercedes lost half of the first day of testing due to transmission reliability problems and was generally far from the fastest times in the three-day pre-season tests, and attention was drawn to the unstable rear end which Valtteri Bottas described as ‘nervous’ and unforgiving ’.
In a Mercedes review of pre-season testing, Vowles and Shovlin say they have yet to discover the cause of the rear end instability and try to find a solution by the first race of the season in Bahrain starting in a week.
“We don’t have an answer at the moment [to rear-end instability],” Vowles said. “It was pretty obvious that the car was misbehaving, and Red Bull was a very stable car, especially in the last sector of the circuit.
I think it's a fair observation. " "It was visible from the outside, and I would say that time has shown it." "But it is also fair to say that we do not have the answers yet. We have a huge amount of data at our disposal and we have a long way to go to try to understand what caused it.
Shovlin added that the difficult conditions on the track in Bahrain, with a lot of wind and sand, have worsened the situation, but that Mercedes definitely has a problem with the rear end. “The wind made it even more challenging,” Shovlin said.
"When the wind blows at the rear of the car you lose a lot of downforces because the effective airspeed is reduced so we had problems in some bends where we had the wind in the back." “The tires on this track are pretty easy to overheat if you start skating so you lose friction and things get even worse.
So we have some problems. ” "We've seen that some of our rivals haven't struggled in the same way so we need to focus on understanding why the back end was weak and how we can make it more stable and predictable."
"Hopefully during the race weekend, it won't be that hard for the drivers because they had to work pretty hard to drive the laps they were driving."