Red Bull’s Helmut Marko does not believe the Mercedes era is over yet, backing them to fight back if they can control their ‘porpoising’.
Mercedes are on a run of eight Constructors’ Championships in succession, although that streak appears very much under threat in 2022.
While their rivals from last season, Red Bull, have continued to contend at the top into this new regulatory era, Mercedes’ place has been taken by Ferrari.
In the opening two rounds, while Ferrari and Red Bull battled away for pole position and the win, Mercedes were left somewhat in no man’s land, clear of the midfield in race trim but comfortably trailing Red Bull and Ferrari in qualifying and race mode.
Mercedes seem to be struggling especially to control the bouncing of their W13, also known as ‘porpoising’, while the Mercedes customer teams Aston Martin, Williams and McLaren have generally found themselves battling in the lower reaches of the grid, suggesting the new Mercedes power unit is lacking some grunt.
Marko, though, believes much of Mercedes’ struggles can be attributed to ‘porpoising’, so he is not ruling them out yet.
If Mercedes can come up with a solution, he thinks they will be right up there battling with Red Bull and Ferrari.
Speaking in an interview with Formel1.de’s YouTube channel, when asked if this was the end of the Mercedes era like Red Bull endured after 2013, Marko said: “You have to distinguish between the two cases.
“The post-2013 era coincided with the new engine rules and Mercedes had incredible dominance at that stage. They were up to two seconds ahead of everyone, but logically they didn’t show it.
“Now, with the change of chassis and engine, the differences are not so big. Mercedes can no longer click and suddenly it’s a party for them.
“But the team are very well positioned and also have some really important people in the chassis area.
“I’m completely convinced they will come back if they control the ‘porpoising’. And Lewis Hamilton is nine points behind [Max] Verstappen, so that’s nothing either.
“I don’t think it’s the end [of an era], but maybe we’ll have a battle on the same level.”
On the subject of Mercedes’ engine struggles, the only logical explanation Marko can think of is this was caused by the change of fuel powering the engines.
From 2022, the new power units were required to use 10% ethanol in the fuel mixture.
“I don’t know exactly why Mercedes have been left behind – surely it must have something to do with the increase in synthetic fuel, which went from five to 10%,” said Marko.
“Logic points to an explanation being related to fuel. And, of course, when you lose so many important people…first Andy Cowell (former Mercedes HPP managing director) is gone, then another 50 people or so, so the impact is logical.”
Marko responded “something like that, yes” when asked if those 50 are now at Red Bull, which he felt created “some difficulties” at Mercedes.
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