Mercedes say the full benefit of the new front wing they introduced last weekend will be seen in the next round at the Hungaroring.Lewis Hamilton indicated he had been underwhelmed by the performance of its latest upgrade last week at Silverstone. “We were all very hopeful of the step that we were going to hopefully” take”, said Hamilton. “To our disappointment it didn’t take us that step, unfortunately.”
However Mercedes technical director James Allison said the new wing increases the car’s performance more in slow corners than the fast turns that make up the majority of the Silverstone circuit.
The new front wing, of course it’s designed to make us go faster, that’s why we do all our things,” he said in a video released by the team. “But the specific characteristics of this new front wing that we’re excited about is it should improve the balance and performance of the car through the slower range of the corners,” he explained.
“Now, Silverstone is famous for lots of things, but lots and lots of slow corners is not one of them. So what we took as a comfort from Silverstone is that in the slower parts of the track we were looking pretty decently competitive. So that’s a tick in the box for this new front wing.”
Allison expects to see a greater gain from the new wing at the Hungarian Grand Prix, where the team took pole position 12 months ago.
“I guess it will only be when we get to Hungary, which is a track made up almost entirely of slower stuff, that we’ll get to know for sure. But early signs are promising, the new front wing seems to do what we expected, and hopefully it will bring us more at tracks which have a wider range of slow corners.”
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Further upgrades for the W14 will continue to arrive during the second half of the season, said Allison, as the 2024 technical regulations are much the same as this year’s.
“There’s still plenty more development to come in these cars. All of the teams will, of course, be turning their attention to next year and that will sort of de-fang all of us a little bit in terms of the rate at which we can improve our cars. But for each of us, and for us absolutely, there are improvements that we would like to make on the current car that we know we’ll also carry into next year.
“So it doesn’t feel like sort of throwing good money after bad. It feels like you’re investing in both seasons with those upgrades.”
He expects the balance of power between the teams immediately behind Red Bull will continue to change as a result of this.
“You’ll see the upgrades coming for a little while longer, I suspect for the others too. And what you will get in this next sequence of races is a little bit of yo-yoing for position in a very closely packed bunch as upgrades make the difference for one team for a while until someone else will come out of sequence with another upgrade a race or two later to even things back up.
“Whether it will all settle down for the final sort of quarter [to] one-third of the season, we’ll see. Hopefully we’ll have our noses in front and be able to have a strong second half of the season.”
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However Allison admitted the size of the step forward McLaren made with the upgrade they introduced to their car over the last two races had taken them by surprise.
“The interesting thing and unusual thing about the McLaren upgrade is its lap time effect is really quite strong. It’s pretty unusual to have a step of that size of relative competitiveness in the middle of the season. And chapeau to them, they’ve done a really good piece of work there.
“But that also makes it interesting for us because we have the before and after shots and we know the lap time effect was big, so well worth us paying more attention than we normally might to another competitor team’s upgrades, because in this case we know that whatever changed has made a really meaningful difference to their lap time. So quite useful for us to know what that was and see whether it can play into our own thoughts about developing our own car.”
2023 British Grand Prix
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