Mercedes is hoping it can hand Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas an easier ride for the season-opening Formula 1 grand prix after declaring its W12 a car that 'handles poorly' and is "a bit weak" at the rear.
It has left the reigning champions on the backfoot going into the curtain-raising race on F1's return to Bahrain on March 26-28, and with a plethora of questions to answer with regard to its car.
Attempting to explain the issues that occurred with the car, trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said: “The wind made it tricky. When the wind is behind the car you lose a lot of downforce because effectively the airspeed is reduced."
"So some corners where the wind was behind, it was prone to doing that, and then also the tyres are quite easy to overheat on that circuit and if you start sliding. You tend to lose grip and it gets worse. So, there are a few problems.
"Now, importantly we could see that some of our competitors weren't struggling in the same way as us, so we need to put quite a focus on understanding why the rear end was a bit weak, how we can get it more stable and predictable.
"That work is going on now. Hopefully, when we get to the race weekend it won't be so difficult for the drivers because they were having to work pretty hard to do the lap times that they were doing.”
Motorsport strategy director James Vowles has reiterated the belief that at this stage of the proceedings, Mercedes is behind Red Bull given the team's RB16B not only ran reliably but was also a stable car.
"We are fortunate enough to have a lot of footage available to us, and it was pretty evident from that the car [W12] was handling poorly," said Vowles, speaking in a post-test debrief with Shovlin.
"Conversely, the Red Bull, in fact, looked what we would call planted, but it was a very stable car especially through the last sector of the lap.
"I think that's a fair observation. It was visible to the outside and I would say the lap times mirrored that as well.
"[We have] Huge amounts of data available to us and now a long journey ahead to try and understand what was causing that."
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