Mercedes Ready To Bounce Back From Spa Struggles

2022 Belgian Grand Prix, Saturday - Toto Wolff
2022 Belgian Grand Prix, Saturday - Toto Wolff

After a weekend to forget in Belgium, Toto Wolff and his Mercedes team are looking to bounce back this weekend at Zandvoort.

‘Belgium was a challenging weekend for us as a Team, but those weekends are the ones that really fire you up and make you dig deeper.
 
‘There were such big extremes across the weekend; from the pace differences on Saturday and Sunday, to the difficult first lap for Lewis and George’s late charge for a podium.
 
‘We’ve been working hard to understand our Spa struggles and thankfully we don’t have long to wait until we can bring utilise and maximise those learnings. What will make the difference for the rest of this season is how quickly and effectively we can continue learning, to deliver our best performance this year and next.
 
‘The Dutch Grand Prix is next, and it was a real party atmosphere last year. It’s an interesting, old-school track with sweeping bends, banked corners and a lot of character. So, we’re excited to be back there and to take on the circuit’s challenges with this year’s car,’ said Wolff.

Fact File: Dutch Grand Prix

  • In general, Zandvoort has an old-school feel, with fast and flowing corners, a mix of corner speeds, undulations, gravel traps and banked turns. It’s definitely a unique challenge for the drivers and puts many aspects of an F1 car to the test.
  • Zandvoort is also unique in its location, nestled in the rolling sand dunes and next to the beach on the West coast of the Netherlands. The main straight is the closest part to the coast and the back section winds its way through the dunes.
  • Zandvoort doesn’t feature many long straights and a lot of the lap is spent cornering. Due to this, it’s a track with low power sensitivity and engine duty, so the F1 Power Unit has an easier time in the Netherlands than at other tracks, where it is worked harder.
  • Because of the many high-speed changes of direction, where the mass of the car can work against you, Zandvoort has the highest mass sensitivity of the year – which means, carrying more fuel will be more penalising.
  • It’s below average for tyre duty and wear, because most of the corner speeds and loads sit in the middle of the road – there are few high-duty turns generating big forces for the tyres. Many sequences are also very flowing rather than stop/start, which puts traction demand into the tyre.
  • Overtaking is challenging at Zandvoort due to the almost constant sequence of cornering, apart from the main straight (which leads into not a particularly big braking zone) and the back straight (which isn’t very long). This means qualifying performance and pace is vital and makes it one of the most important qualifying sessions of the year.
  • Zandvoort is the third-quickest lap time of the season, behind the Red Bull Ring and Interlagos. The fastest lap of last year’s race weekend was a 1m08.885.
  • It is the third highest track for downforce sensitivity, which means a track where maximum or very high downforce is required. The only two tracks that are higher than Zandvoort are Budapest and Monaco.
  • We experience two very different tarmacs at Zandvoort, which means the tyres behave quite differently on one relative to the other. There’s some new, smoother tarmac laid in 2020, and the rest of the track features an older, more aggressive surface. This makes it tricky to rebalance the car for all corners, because the surfaces can be different from one corner to the next.
  • Turns 13 and 14 make up the final section of the track and the corners are banked 18 degrees – around twice as steep as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. And this puts different kinds of forces through the cars and tyres – they’ll be feeling vertical loads here, rather than lateral. The drivers also experience these vertical loads, meaning they get pushed into their seats rather than from side to side with lateral loads.
  • The corner exit out of the banked Turn 3 is important, because of the long, flat-out sequence of turns that follows. So, traction and speed carried through this corner is vital for finding time and finding momentum into the section that follows. Drivers will often take a higher line through this banked corner to do this.
  • The pit lane length is just 235 metres in Zandvoort, the shortest of the entire season. However, because of this, it’s an incredibly tight pit lane, and the speed limit is lowered from the usual 80 km/h to 60 km/h.
  • Drivers experience 5.2g through the long, sweeping Turn 7 at Zandvoort, one of the highest lateral g-forces of the entire season.

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