Mercedes to ‘take a chainsaw’ to W13 to reduce drag for Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton claimed a surprise podium while George Russell came fourth on his full debut but Mercedes are already playing catch-up to Ferrari and Red Bull

Sports Staff
Tuesday 22 March 2022 11:46
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<p>Mercedes unveiled the W13 ahead of the new season </p>

Mercedes unveiled the W13 ahead of the new season

Mercedes are set to make significant changes to their car ahead of this week’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, with team boss Toto Wolff suggesting they will “take a chainsaw” to the W13 in an attempt to reduce drag.

The defending constructors’ champions have come into the new season struggling to unlock what they believe is the true performance of the W13 car and are behind Ferrari and Red Bull in terms of race pace.

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell may have finished third and fourth at the opening race of the season at the Bahrain Grand Prix but it only came after the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez had to retire due to fuel-flow issues late on.

Wolff said ahead of Bahrain that his team were still effectively in pre-season testing mode and so although taking an early lead over Red Bull was an unexpected bonus, the Mercedes boss acknowledged that alterations are needed in the short turnaround to the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah this week.

“I think we are running more drag, or we have the data that we are running more drag than anyone else,” Wolff said at the Bahrain International Circuit.

“We can see we are losing on the main straight but not so much on all the other ones, so we need to make an assessment after the first couple of races to see if we are lacking power or deployment before we point fingers into some of the areas. Realistically, it’s about half a second we are missing on a single lap.

“I think we were probably over-winged We had too much drag and that’s just because we are lacking parts at the moment and hopefully we can remedy that.

“It’s half or a little bit more maybe of the top-speed advantage, but we need to really leave no stone unturned on the power unit side. It’s easier to shed drag off the car because you simply take a chainsaw and cut the rear wing to bits, and so that’s what we will do for Jeddah.”

Charles Leclerc’s victory ended Ferrari’s long wait for a race win while Carlos Sainz completed a one-two to leave the Italian giants as the team to beat early on. Verstappen had been set for second before he retired his car with three laps to go while Perez was challenging Sainz for a podium place when he was hit by reliability issues.

“I think at the moment we are five and six, third on the road,” Wolff added. “We are trying to recover ground but it won’t come from one day to the other.”

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