Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Monaco, 2023

Mercedes ready to “grind” their way to competitiveness after major W14 update

2023 Monaco Grand Prix

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The cancellation of the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix meant Mercedes introduced a major package of upgrades for their W14 in Monaco, on a low-speed street circuit which gave a few clues at how effective they have been.

The could take some encouragement from its highest-scoring weekend of the season so far, with Lewis Hamilton finishing fourth and team mate George Russell fifth. Many unknowns nonetheless remain about their performance.

However Mercedes’ team principal Toto Wolff saw a “positive note” to take from a weekend in which “we were in the mix with Aston Martin and with Ferrari.”

“Our car was awful last year, and this time around, it’s not good,” he said to media including RaceFans. “But we really need to be careful. We’ve got to go to Barcelona, collect more data. It’s a new baseline. I don’t expect us clearing Aston Martin and Ferrari there either.

“It is more about understanding what does this car do now, and how do we need to set it up?”

Wolff believes the team will be able to make good progress once it verifies the changes are a step in the right direction.

“We’re really good at grinding away: once we decide for a development direction, then we grind away. And even with the old package [of 2022] that wasn’t great, or was terrible at the beginning of the season, we managed to win a race at Interlagos in a very dominant way. So we’re going to get there.”

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Wolff noted that the Monaco weekend showed the upgraded W14 is continuing a trend for Mercedes’ F1 cars.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Monaco, 2023
Mercedes’ distinctive ‘zero’ sidepods are no more
“I think we’ve been better in FP1 actually than FP2 and the rest of the weekend. The more a track grips in, the less performing we are. And it’s really a lot of learning at the moment because everything is new. We got to just collect the data and then set the car up in any way.”

Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said the higher amount of suspension travel teams run for the bumpy Monaco circuit make it harder to assess aerodynamic performance.

“The limited data that you get – which, aerodynamically, it’s very hard here because the car’s are never in the same condition for more than a moment – that all looks fine,” he said. “The difficult bit is you come to Monaco, you never know quite where you’re going to stack up,” he explained.

the team is eager to tackle the Circuit de Catalunya this weekend to draw some firm conclusion about the upgraded car’s potential.

“We’ve had bits of the weekend where we looked a bit more competitive than the Q3 final showing. But we’re really looking forward to just getting on to a proper track like Barcelona, see where we are and if we need to do more work and more development. And that’s what we’re expecting to be getting on with.”

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The competitiveness of Mercedes at Barcelona “is going to define the path ahead for us,” said Shovlin. “We’re fully expecting to have a lot of work to do.”

While the emphasis on set-up and development will come from track time at Barcelona, the “positive” feedback from the drivers in Monaco has still given the team a starting point that corresponds with what was expected.

“The work we’ve been doing on the simulator has shown that it’s in the right direction. So we’re quite comfortable that what we have done will have been a step forward,” Shovlin said.

“The problem is at this stage of the year, you have Aston Martin bringing an update, Alpine have brought more updates. Everyone’s bringing bits to the car. So I think you’ve just got to trust your own tools and your own direction.”

The team’s development efforts are also constrained by how much they can spend, Shovlin added. “What we have brought to this car is just a case of what can you achieve in a cost cap in a short space of time. So it’s a step but not where we want to end up.”

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2023 Monaco Grand Prix

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    Author information

    Ida Wood
    Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...
    Claire Cottingham
    Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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    7 comments on “Mercedes ready to “grind” their way to competitiveness after major W14 update”

    1. Having the sidepods in good view on the second photograph, one can see they – just like most other teams – copied the Ferrari sidepod design more than RedBull’s. Ferrari should get definitely more credit for their design.

      1. Considering that the rumor goes that Ferrari is ditching their sidepods for a Red Bull concept, and that Ferrari barely understand their own concept begin with, any credit to Ferrari seems very premature.

        It’s seems more like the blind leading the blind than anything else.

    2. I expect they’ll gain a lot more next season when they can make bigger changes to the driver position. Til then it’s all about chipping away. Let’s not forget they developed a wrong concept into a race winning car, so I don’t doubt they’ll get back to the front. Hopefully it’s soon as Aston are unlikely to out develop RedBull and Ferrari seem nowhere on race pace.

    3. The same talk as after every good race they had last season.

    4. Coventry Climax
      1st June 2023, 15:12

      And how does this all affect their budget?

      1. We probably won’t know that until the middle of next year. I’m sure they are keeping an eye on it, though, coz it’s unlikely any other team will get away with a slap on the wrist again.

        1. (Even if they claim it was all down to catering…)

    Comments are closed.