Mercedes admits it was "pretty confused" by 2017 car
The Mercedes Formula 1 team admits it was "pretty confused" by the behaviour of its 2017 car in the early stages of the season, as it suffered repeated defeats to Ferrari.
Mercedes ultimately claimed a fourth consecutive F1 championship double, but trailed Ferrari after six races having struggled to consistently unlock performance from the W08, leading team boss Toto Wolff to dub the car a "diva".
The car was overweight in the early part of the campaign, and struggled to use Pirelli's new ultrasoft tyre properly, but Mercedes eventually developed the W08 well enough to win both championships comfortably.
Chief designer John Owen admitted the initial difficulties with the car had surprised the team, given its forensic approach to design and engineering, and said Mercedes had to work harder than ever to solve the problems.
"With this car, we didn't understand it, and I think the term 'diva' came along because we seemed to do what looked like the right things and it didn't respond the way we wanted it to," Owen told Motorsport.com.
"In those early races we were pretty confused, to be honest, and we really didn't know what we should do."
Owen said Mercedes' struggles were eventually traced to aspects of how the car worked the rear tyres in particular.
"Throughout the year our car was probably heavier on its rear tyres; some were heavier on their front tyres," he explained. "It's trying to work out the best way to run your car to balance the wear both ends.
"We found tracks like Silverstone, Montreal, or Monza, Austin, Suzuka – these are really good tracks for us, but the slower tracks, the hotter circuits, we struggled more.
"We tried a lot of things and gradually, as the races went by, the more we thought about it, the more analysis we did – and I'd say we did more than any other year in digging into and understanding – we started to get on top of those issues.
"That's been great, and I think at the end of the season we probably wouldn't call our car a diva anymore.
"Certainly, we intend to knock out as many of those awkward characteristics as we can for next year, and hopefully not introduce any new ones."
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