Examining the Viability of Mercedes’ Japan F1 Podium Hopes

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Examining the Viability of Mercedes' Japan F1 Podium Hopes
Mercedes F1 Race Car

Mercedes had a tough time at Suzuka. George Russell finished seventh, and Lewis Hamilton finished ninth. They ended up behind Fernando Alonso.

According to team boss Wolff, Mercedes faced difficulties during qualifying and the race. They initially tried a one-stop strategy but had to switch to a two-stop plan like Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

Wolff explained, “We ended up where we started and it was just very difficult.” He said their first stint was bad, but the later stints were competitive.

But could Mercedes have challenged for a podium? It seems unlikely, considering the gap between them and third place.

Let’s look at the data. Mercedes’ second stint on hard tires was compared to Leclerc’s stint on the same tires. Leclerc’s lap times were slightly better.

Examining the Viability of Mercedes' Japan F1 Podium Hopes
Mercedes F1 Race Car

In the third stint, Russell was slower than Sainz, and Hamilton was just a little faster. But it’s unsure if they could have caught up even with a different strategy.

Hamilton said, “I don’t know what the different strategy would’ve been.” He acknowledged that their car struggled with the hard tires.

Mercedes struggled in the first half of the race but showed improvement later on. Technical director James Allison mentioned that their car’s weakness was in warmer conditions.

Although they found some answers, fighting for podiums still seems challenging based on their performance in the first four rounds of 2024.

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