Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Losail International Circuit, 2023

Mercedes’ US GP floor upgrade ‘will tell us whether we’re on the right track’

Formula 1

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Mercedes will bring a revised floor for its W14 at the next race which the team hopes will provide a useful pointer for its 2024 development.

Besides improving the car’s performance Mercedes’ technical director James Allison is hoping the design shows they are heading in the right direction.

“Hopefully it will give us a bit of lap time,” he said. “That’s always a benefit.

“But it is mostly a useful thing because it’s a bellwether for whether we’re on the right track.

“In lap time terms, it will be small. Useful, but don’t expect us to have leapt past Max [Verstappen].”

The upgrade is not focusing on a performance improvement at particular types of tracks, nor rectifying a wide selection of areas of the W14 which Mercedes have identified they need to improve in, but is an important important one because of how Formula 1’s current cars use ground effect to generate downforce.

“I think that much of what ails us now is reasonably well-understood and we’re working to fix that,” said Allison. He warned that “time will tell” whether those fixes will arrive on the car later on and be a success.

“I feel like all of us got a pretty clear-sighted view of what we want to do with the car. This championship, while we haven’t made the really impressive progress that McLaren have, we have nevertheless been charting a path through the season that gives us a very clear idea of what we need to put right.

“So that makes the next years fun, very exciting to look forward to, and actually this period of the year extremely enjoyable.”

At least one other team, Haas, will bring an upgrade to the race at the Circuit of the Americas. The team which fell to ninth in the championship last weekend will introduced a major package of changes to its car.

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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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39 comments on “Mercedes’ US GP floor upgrade ‘will tell us whether we’re on the right track’”

  1. Useful, but don’t expect us to have leapt past Max [Verstappen].”

    Nice to see that rivals acknowledge it’s Max who makes the difference, rather than Red Bull with their car.

    1. Joe Pineapples
      13th October 2023, 10:06

      Either that or bypassing Perez as a waste of space.

    2. If the car wasn’t capable it wouldn’t do the lap times regardless of who was driving it.

      It’s not Max that makes the difference, its Checo not being good enough.

  2. But..

    Russell says collision with Hamilton cost Mercedes chance to fight Verstappen

    So that would say they are already there, right?

    1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
      11th October 2023, 9:45

      Maybe optimistic but without the constraints of tyre management George was peddling impressively to be starting from the back and making an extra pit stop on lap 1.

    2. While hard to tell how fast Russell was in Qatar since he ran all race in traffic fighting from the back, it is safe to assume he could have been matching McLaren this weekend. And Piastri was less than 5 seconds behind Max, and Lando was faster than Piastri at least during parts of the race. So if Norris had been ahead of Piastri, he could have challenged Max. And if Russell could have matched McLaren, he could have challenged Norris, who could have challenged Max.

      So yes, it’s not unreasonable to assume a clean start would have seen Russell challenge for the win in Qatar.

      1. @chrischrill
        While I agree you could guesstimate a performance for George considering McLaren, but it leaves one big variable open that we simply don’t know. How much time did Verstappen have in the bag. We could see him managing the gap. We could seem him pumping out real fast times at the end of his stints. He also had the fastest lap by some margin. He was the only driver to not have a single track limit violation. I don’t know but these all might point to him having actually a lot of time in reserve… ..which he wisely kept in reserve to be prepared for safety cars at unfortunate moments.

        Another factor which could have an impact would be Hamilton. If they didn’t tangle there would be an extra car for him to contend with

        So to me it is perfectly plausible he’d be fighting for a podium spot. The top spot however, sounds to me like too much of a bold claim

        1. Particularly when Max was clearly cruising. Giampiero telling him to pick up the pace a bit, that was a golden one.

          1. @melanos
            Good addition, I forgot about that one..

    3. wrong article

  3. It’s quite unbelievable how much development Mercedes is able to pull out of the costcap bag
    Interesting to see the numbers of this year by fia.

    1. My kids have been trying to teach me about advanced maths “Imaginary numbers” , and muons, perhaps the answer lies somewhere in there.🤔🤔🤔🤔

    2. We’ve seen that there is no penalty for going over so why wouldn’t Merc do it too?

      1. There was a serious penalty for less then 400.000 euro overspending. Compared with the Mercedes induced damage a drop of water in the ocean.
        Strangely the tax deductions fia put on that year were paid the year after. So redbull has some retribution for this taxerror by. Fia.

        1. There was quite some Max induced damage.

          1. Not really, the Silverstone attack by Lewis or the Bottas bowling costs were extremely high.

    3. Osnola, I think all the teams continue with evelopment, but mostly it doesn’t get reported in the news. In addition, since I have not seen the figures for all these developments, I wouldn’t know whether or not it is well within budget or borderline. Do you?

    4. Every other team has brought updates to their cars this year. Every other team has openly admitted they’re working on next year’s car in addition to this one.

      Mercedes has not, at any time (so far) been accused, or found guilty of, exceeding their budget.

      So why are you insinuating that they’re cheating, rather than budgeting their resources to maximum effect?

      1. It takes one, to know one.
        I pointed out how unique it is showing two generations of cars and lots of development during a costcap season.
        So, still very interested in the FIA figures next year

    5. Funny that you are suggesting that a team that has not breached the budget cap might be breaking the rules to try and catch a team that has already been caught breaking the rules.

      1. The team breaking the rules and disqualified for quali in 21 was Mercedes. Do not change history to fit your agenda.

        1. The team breaking the rules and disqualified for quali in 21 was Mercedes. Do not change history to fit your agenda

          The historically recorded fact is that Mercedes had a badly fitted part on one side of the rear wing.
          That made that side of the wing more flexible than allowed.
          Unless Mercedes were attempting to make only one side of the car go faster for some weird reason, it could not be advantageous.
          This incorrectly fitted part was noted by the stewards, but the rule is very specific regarding allowed deflection at the measurement points, so the penalty was applied.

          Would you like to discuss the RBR wing that flexed like a bee’s wing and required taping up at regular intervals?

    6. Lets be honest. It’s only Red Bull that cheat over spending.

  4. This sport is needlessy getting WAY too technical.
    Surely if they see a sign saying “Circuit of the Americas” they would know they were on the right track.

  5. The time to find out whether you’re “on the right track” and have the courage to admit that you weren’t was about two years ago.

    Too little, too late.

  6. They better be on the right track. It’s been two years now they found out they were on the wrong one.

    1. still can’t believe they showed up with the zero side pod car at the beginning of the season

    2. I remember a story that a F1 team reported at the wrong circuit but got there in time at the right track as they were in the right country. But i can’t remember the team name anymore as it was in the 50s-60s periode….

      1. My father went to the British GP at Brands Hatch in 1988.
        The race was at Silverstone. Fortunately all he missed was quali.
        (It alternated between to the two circuits for several years, but Brands never hosted after ’86. Dad didn’t get the memo. Have to admit I also didn’t know and would have gone with him if I had been able to get the time off work. In those days you didn’t have to mortgage your house for a ticket a year in advance, you just turned up and paid at the gate.)

  7. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
    11th October 2023, 13:16

    This is James Allison talking though having taken back development control after the season started.

    Obviously the same designers are still there but he would have been there to weigh up the design directions and might have abandoned the zero side pod.

  8. I have a feeling this Mercedes update might be like the rest of their updates this season – Inconclusive.

    They need to develop a car concept from scratch to match Red Bull, this patchwork on the failed zero sidepod approach will get them to P2 in the WCC at the maximum.

    1. In other news, the sky is blue, and water is wet. They don’t expect to win this championship– they’ve admitted it’s pretty much over.

      But given the chance to test out their development path for next season, they’d be fools to not try out new concepts.

      All of which was basically in the article you apparently didn’t read.

      1. But given the chance to test out their development path for next season, they’d be fools to not try out new concepts.

        If RBR could cover the cost of testing 2024 development items on the current car for a complete race weekend without visibly breaking the budget cap, they would/will do it.
        Insert any other team name of choice where the team stand to gain next year without a negative 2023 WCC effect.

    2. You will know when you see if they can pass red bull down the straight. Which they should be able to, but, I would put odds on them not being able to fix this issue till at best next season when they realize their upper body work closer to a ferrari, red bull or mclaren. IE closer to their W11.

    3. Al they need is Adrian Newey.

      Hell, if I were Toto I might even give Paddy Lowe a call. :-O

  9. Russell’s pace was good on that track in that circumstance. Recall the lap-limits placed on tyres, which is unusual. That means the teams (like Haas) which would normally eat through their tyres and fall back on longer stints, were given an advantage and teams like Red Bull that are gentle on tyres were disadvantaged to some extent. Russell having started from the back and clearly changed to a strategy of quali laps through out had zero concerns with tyre management.

    Max must have been dosing off towards the end of the race. It would be a mistake to think that he didn’t have Piastri and even a hard-charging Norris, fully under control were it to come to that. One of the areas where I’ve seen Max grow (and there have been many) is that he has got better at winning the race with the least amount of risk (no track limit violations) and stress on the car as possible.
    Merc is suffering from a bit of PTSD with hoping that changes they made in the past would make a major step, only to prove otherwise. Guarded optimism is wise.

  10. Seems like we’ve heard this line before over the past 2 seasons.

    So far there hasn’t appeared to be any confirmation of anything other than “didn’t quite work as expected”

  11. This is promising and good to hear James Allison saying that they’ve understood the issues plaguing them.
    For me, the main failure by Mike Elliot, who’s a proponent of the ‘zero-pod’ philosophy was his failure to grasp the importance of the suspension for these ground effect cars. Adrian Newey knew the importance of it and he’s on record for saying he took it upon himself to design the suspension for the RB18/19!
    The ‘zero-pod’ philosophy could generate downforce but the poor suspension couldn’t manage to maintain / sustain a ‘flat platform’ when the downforce loads come on, and therefore triggers the high frequency oscillations, alias porpoising! Even today, the W14 experiences bouncing whenever they lower the ride height to aid rear end downforce / stability simply because the suspension geometry and kinetics are wrong!
    James is a suspension specialist / guru so I expect him to have figured out a better suspension system, especially the rear for the W15, which will require a new chassis, a new transmission casing coupled with the right mounting points for the innovative suspension I believe they will introduce for the W15.
    Here’s some hoping!

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