Pierre Gasly, Bahrain, Max Verstappen discussed on The Autosport Podcast
They took some pretty radical steps to try and fix the issue, even taking a saw to the outer edges of their flaws, try and reduce their down force just to see what was going on really and which direction might be best to go in. But how does it feel? You're covering Formula One in 2019, does it feel particularly different to that year when it looked like Mercedes off the pace but then they rocked up at the first race and won anyway? Is it fundamentally that different? It does feel a lot different. Yeah, I remember in 19, I think it was the first test they turned up and I did hear, I think the most extreme explanation of it. I heard that they did a race simulation. They got laps compared to what they should have been. It's obviously a stock where Merck at all ever expect to be. But then by the second, yeah, they brought a load of new parts and it was sorted and it was fine. I think even after the first test, we sort of joked like, are we going to see the W 13 B turn up? And there was this talk about the side pods. And we may be expecting that same kind of step forward. And that just never came. And then by the end of the test, yeah, it was pretty clear. The mood just felt very, very different. And it's not only the fact that Mercedes were talking themselves down something that Matt picked up on last week as well is fact that even other rivals Pierre gasly had a few laps with Hamilton on one of the days testing last week, and even he said, oh, yeah, it's quite clear that Lewis was struggling. So I think the mood is very different, and it is the added things of the, as he says, not the work of a moment the way they're sort of got to get out of this. It's a concept and a direction. They've really gone down. And the other thing is the budget cap as well. You can't just spend your way out of trouble now. You can't just throw enough money at the problem until it goes away. You are limited in terms of what you can do, how many updates you can bring through a season what ideas and directions you can really go down. So the mood is definitely different. And I think that, I mean, we've done a lot of articles quoting drivers, Max Verstappen, he was like, no, it's always like this that Mercedes and miles off, the next week, there are we've won, thanks everyone at the factory, and he was quite sarki to our Dutch colleagues about it all, but it just does feel a bit different this time around. And I think that as I said last week on one of the shows, if they lock out the third row on Sunday in Bahrain, in Bahrain, that wouldn't be a big surprise. That would be, I think, pretty much in line with what we're expecting at the moment. So it's going to be, I think there's a lot of work from Mercedes stew, and I think that, yeah, this sort of skepticism we've seen from drivers in both fans on social media. They're always like, yeah, we've heard this one before. Even saw one person screenshot said, I think a headline from every year, 18, 19, 20 and 21 of Mercedes going yeah, we're not so sure. We might be a bit off the pace, but I think this feels a little bit different this time around. Yeah, I'd agree with that. I think it's just such a fundamentally different formula. Is every chance that yeah, things really, really have gone wrong from Mercedes, but I still think that team is so capable they will eventually work their way out of trouble and the team is pretty adamant that it's designed. It's got all confidence in it. So mat I just wondered what you thought we were out on the last day of the test. We went track. We walked around in the absolute sweltering sunshine. You spent a long time looking in the mirror, one of the mirrors of the track trying to check your hair was still in place. What did you make of the moment? Well, actually wasn't really a moment. It was a long period. Where Lewis Hamilton was following Pierre gassy in the AlphaTauri quite closely. Did you learn anything about any particular Mercedes weakness through that through that moment? Well, I will say, those mirrors were there on blind curves to help the drivers like truck drivers shuttle bus drivers see around the corner. It's an all I was doing, Alex while walking with our esteemed Grand Prix editor was making sure there was no encryption coming traffic to keep you safe. Absolutely lies. I'm not questioning Mercedes infinite wisdom, but there is an element of the biggest rule change our degree ever in Formula One. And by virtue of bringing such a heavily updated car to Bahrain, they've only in effect giving themselves three days to test the test effectively to finish articles, so some trouble is there. What did I notice about the Mercedes from track side? Fundamentally, I think, and this goes across all formulas I've watched trackside all clubbies I've been to. It doesn't matter how much fuel you put in a car, what rubbish tires you chuck on it, you can still tell a good chassis from the way it goes around the corner, and that's most evident with Red Bull who I'm sure will come on too soon. So even if the Mercedes was topped up to the brim and it was running, you know, the worst C 5 compound. It still didn't have the aggression with which it with which the red ball turned in. And I think, you know, sort of cross referencing this with a couple of people I was speaking to, is I think this stems to how much Mercedes are struggling with porpoise and how much the car is potentially being too effective at creating down force. And that sucking it into the ground, the air stalling is popping back up and going down. It's obviously we've seen the videos of it, you know, it's a nauseating experience for the drivers..