F1 triple-header ideal proving ground for Mercedes upgrades
By Ian Parkes
Monday 15th May, 2023 - 1:51am
Mercedes is rolling out major upgrades for the next race at Imola which is the first grand prix of a European triple-header
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes F1’s upcoming triple-header will provide the ideal test bed for the raft of upgrades due on its troublesome W14.
Following the first five grands prix of the season, F1 returns to Europe over three weekends at a trio of very different circuits in Imola, Monaco, and Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya.
For Mercedes, the trio of races will determine whether the updates planned for the car tally with the numbers experienced in the wind tunnel, which appear to have provided Wolff and his team with considerable optimism.
Whilst Wolff has insisted that what is due on the car – front suspension and associated bodywork, along with a new floor – is no magic bullet.
Wolff is convinced, however, the car will at least no longer be the “nasty piece of work”, as he described it following qualifying for last weekend’s Miami Grand Prix, and which has left him so frustrated this season.
Suggested to Wolff that obtaining answers from the upgrade could be difficult given the back-to-back-to-back nature of the next three races, Wolff said: “I think we know what we’re doing to the car, and pretty quickly we will see whether that correlates with the virtual world.
“It’s good to have three races in a row to understand what’s actually happening, and then it gives us maybe a little bit of a buffer later on to filter that, and then take the next decisions of what to do in terms of updates.
“Monaco, between the two (Imola and Barcelona), is something that is a single-lap issue, and a tyre that comes to life quickly. None of that we do good, so let’s see where we are in Imola.”
New front suspension the key for Mercedes
The new suspension is of particular intrigue, clearly indicating the direction Mercedes has taken with its development as it seeks to provide its drivers with an improved ride platform.
The key for Mercedes is whether that will funnel down into providing the back-end stability so sought after by Lewis Hamilton.
“I don’t believe in miracles but I think the stability of the car and the predictability for the drivers is just sub-par,” said Wolff.
“If we can sort that out, helped by a front suspension redesign, then that’s definitely a good avenue.
“And if this is worth more than a tenth (of a second) or two compared to what the aerodynamic package brings, then its more about unlocking driveability and pace.”
Wolff has confirmed there will be enough budget in the cost cap to ensure Mercedes can continue to build on whatever platform the upgrades deliver.
With the cap running at US$135 million this year, Wolff said: “If you embark on a new development direction, it’s one project you can concentrate on, so that (the budget) should be fine.”
Wolff has also stated both Hamilton and George Russell will benefit from the updates at Imola.
“We never introduce a new upgrade if we don’t have two sets plus one spare,” said Wolff.
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