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Formula 1 Hungarian GP

Mercedes explains why ‘mind-blowing’ F1 vortices are more difficult to grasp

Mercedes has admitted that it is still a little way off getting a full grasp of the 'mind-blowing' vortices that are at play underneath its Formula 1 car.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

The German manufacturer is trying to plot a path back to the front of grand prix racing but still has some way to go before it is in a position to challenge Red Bull on pure pace for race wins.

While an upgrade package introduced at the Monaco Grand Prix helped deliver a step forward in form, it continues working hard to try to unlock more performance from the W14.

Speaking ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton opened up on how difficult a task Mercedes face in trying to find the steps it wanted.

"There's simulations with the new rules that we have, and all the new tools we have had to create and understand the flow structures underneath the car," he said.

"All those vortices would blow your mind if you saw what's happening underneath the car, which is a lot different to the previous generations of cars. Working through that just takes time."

Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin has now offered a bit more insight into how tough a task his squad faces, and why it is not yet as on top of the current generation of cars as it was the previous rules set.

"With the old regulations, which we had a good grasp on, you didn't need to consider the car in the same dynamic sense," he said.

"You were just saying it's at a certain roll angle, steer angle, certain ride heights and in doing that, you could capture what was going on.

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director, Mercedes-AMG, in the team principals Press Conference

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director, Mercedes-AMG, in the team principals Press Conference

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

"But the flow structures under our car, under every car, are more complicated now and they're more transient.

"And what Lewis was referring to was really the fact that, as other teams will have had to develop their tools to cope with this new set of aero regulations, we're getting to a stage where the correlation is good, and we can start to understand the effect of changes.

"But we're not at the position we were with the regulations in 2020/2021 where you had a really, really good grasp of everything that was going on. The [way the] floors work is more complicated than it used to be."

Shovlin said that making rapid progress with a car in the cost cap era was also much more difficult, as teams had to carefully consider the introduction of new parts.

He also felt it was a factor in why Red Bull had been able to stay ahead.

"The way the rules are, if you launch a competitive car, in a cost cap, it is quite difficult for teams to catch up," he said.

"If you've got a competitive car, you don't need to be throwing updates at it week in, week out. They [Red Bull] started in a very good place.

"And the fact is our wind tunnel resource is not very different to theirs and not very different to Ferrari's, so there's that initial performance advantage you start with – and it has come down over the year – but when you look at how big it was in Bahrain and Jeddah, it's always difficult to shut that down in terms of the championship."

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