Imola upgrade start of a new path for Mercedes

The upgrades Mercedes introduce in Imola are a step in a new direction

The upgrades Mercedes will introduce in Imola are a step in a new upgrade path

The upgrade package Mercedes is set to deliver at this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix are not directly about improving the pace of the W14.

Mercedes has had an inconsistent season with a difficult car, qualifying on the front row in Australia only to struggle for Saturday pace in Miami.

The team has been aware of its weaknesses for some time, acknowledging the shortcomings of its 2023 machine publicly.

However, the resolution is far from straightforward and has seen Mercedes adopt a new development path.

According to the team’s trackside engineering director, Andrew Shovlin, this weekend’s race in Imola will offer the first glimpse of that change.

“If we go all the way back to the test and race in Bahrain, that was where we realised that we didn’t have a package that was going to allow us to fight for a world championship,” Shovlin said.

“If we continued on that same development direction, we wouldn’t end up in a position where we felt we could challenge Red Bull.

“It was around that time that we took some decisions on how we develop the car, how the car works aerodynamically, and how we shape the characteristics of the car – in essence, how it is in terms of handling for the drivers to drive.

“What we are going to be bringing to the track in Imola is the first step of that work,” he added.

“This takes quite a long time to develop in the wind tunnel and you can’t just do these things overnight.”

The Imola upgrades are the first in a line of developments that will be rolled out as the year wears on.

Mercedes hopes it offers a new upgrade pathway that doesn’t face the same limitations it has struggled with since the current regulation set was introduced in 2022.

“The Imola package are the first steps in that direction. We are hoping to bring other updates later in the year,” Shovlin said.

“We do hope that it is quicker, we hope that it’s better in terms of qualifying and race pace.

“The key thing though is that we are not just looking to bring a lap time update, we are looking to head off in a different development direction.

“One that we think gives us a better chance in the long term of being able to challenge for race wins and world championships.”

Opening practice for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix begins at 13:30 local time (21:30 AEST), the first of three races in as many weeks for F1.

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