Damon Hill: Don’t discount Mercedes for 2022 Formula 1 season despite testing issues


Damon Hill

expert analyst

Speaking to Sky Sports News, 1996 world champion Damon Hill has warned of dashing Mercedes’ hopes ahead of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend despite their struggles in testing.

Last update: 03/15/22 11:42

Damon Hill thinks Mercedes' problems in testing mean they may have to come from behind after the first races of the new season, but says no one should ignore them.

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Damon Hill thinks Mercedes’ problems in testing mean they may have to come from behind after the first races of the new season, but says no one should ignore them.

Damon Hill thinks Mercedes’ problems in testing mean they may have to come from behind after the first races of the new season, but says no one should ignore them.

Damon Hill has warned not to dash Mercedes’ hopes for the 2022 Formula 1 season despite the reigning constructors’ champions struggling in testing last week.

The Silver Arrows were reliable but lacked pace compared to rivals Red Bull and Ferrari, while drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell both played down expectations for the coming season.

But talk to Sky Sports News ahead of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, which is exclusively live on sky sports this weekend, the 1996 world champion Hill warned against reading too much of these performances during these test sessions at the Sakhir circuit.

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“In the past they had problems in practice and then won the first race,” Hill said. “You should never overlook them; they’ve won eight constructors’ titles on the trot, so they have the capability.

“We’ve got 22 races, so the championship is a long stretch, maybe they’ve come from behind the first two races, but I’ve learned not to overlook them – but they’ve had a few misfires, and it looks like they’ve Had some issues during testing.

“They have huge resources, but they’re limited in the resources they can use because they’ve bought budget caps, so they can’t spend more than a certain amount of money on their cars, employ more than a certain number of people, or spend more than a certain number of hours on the platform.”

Pre-season testing in Bahrain saw Mercedes debut arguably the most eye-catching car design under the new Formula 1 regulations too, with the W13 notably featuring minimalist side pods and fins.

Ted, Brundle and Crofty talk about Hamilton's struggle with porpoising during testing and whether it could potentially hold Mercedes back ahead of the first race of the season.

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Ted, Brundle and Crofty talk about Hamilton’s struggle with porpoising during testing and whether it could potentially hold Mercedes back ahead of the first race of the season.

Ted, Brundle and Crofty talk about Hamilton’s struggle with porpoising during testing and whether it could potentially hold Mercedes back ahead of the first race of the season.

The design teams at Ferrari and Red Bull have also come up with their own imaginative interpretations of the rules and Hill is delighted to see the different ideas used on the grid in 2022.

“It’s fascinating to see what they’ve done,” Hill said. “Ferrari came up with a very different pontoon shape which is very round, whereas the Red Bull has scalloped shapes where the air passes under the radiator air inlets.

“Mercedes started out completely differently – you can barely see where the radiators are and they have a car that almost looks like a triangle, like Williams does.

“There are a lot of different interpretations of the car and they all play with how the air flows through the car, over the top of the car and out the back of the car to the wing to get more downforce, so that the air is more effective on the body of the car.

Formula 1 chief executive Ross Brawn said he had not anticipated Mercedes' interpretation of the new car design rules.

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Formula 1 chief executive Ross Brawn said he had not anticipated Mercedes’ interpretation of the new car design rules.

Formula 1 chief executive Ross Brawn said he had not anticipated Mercedes’ interpretation of the new car design rules.

“There are a lot of interpretations, new regulations that they’ve been working on, and they’ve come up with different ideas, which is great for us.”

It was Red Bull and reigning Drivers’ Champion Max Verstappen who set the tone during testing in Bahrain, with many observers expecting them to lead the charge in the first Grand Prix of the year this weekend. -end.

But, as with the warning against dismissing Mercedes’ hopes, Hill cautioned against reading too much of this era and thinks Ferrari, with the thrilling driver duo of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr, could also be well placed to challenge in 2022.

“They looked very comfortable, they looked happy in the garage, and they were reliable and fast, but you never have to keep testing,” Hill said. “You have a clue, but it can be very misleading.

Lewis Hamilton believes Ferrari and Red Bull are the favorites to win the Bahrain Grand Prix next week as Max Verstappen sets the fastest time on the final day of testing.

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Lewis Hamilton believes Ferrari and Red Bull are the favorites to win the Bahrain Grand Prix next week as Max Verstappen sets the fastest time on the final day of testing.

Lewis Hamilton believes Ferrari and Red Bull are the favorites to win the Bahrain Grand Prix next week as Max Verstappen sets the fastest time on the final day of testing.

“We have seen in the past that the Ferraris have done well in testing and they look very good, but what will happen when we get to qualifying? That will really be the test… when we see the true pace of these test cars.

“But that also doesn’t answer the question, because you have to consider how these cars maintain their tires during a race. They can sometimes be fast in qualifying and not fast in the race. In front, at least you can say that.”




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