Mercedes say the floor upgrade they introduced at the United States Grand Prix has worked as planned and bodes well for their 2024 campaign.Lewis Hamilton finished second at the Circuit of the Americas following the introduction of the floor, but was disqualified after a post-race inspection of the plank fitted to its underside revealed it had worn beyond the legal minimum.
However Hamilton repeated his second place finish in Mexico a week later without a repeat of the problems they encountered in Austin. The team’s head of trackside development Andrew Shovlin said the data they gleaned from the latest race weekend confirmed the floor has worked as intended.
“If we look at the performance in Austin, we look at the performance here [in Mexico], being able to race cars like McLaren and Ferrari effectively, we’d say that the track data is definitely suggesting that we’ve made a forward step,” said Shovlin in a video released by the team.
“Now, bear in mind that all the top teams have been bringing updates to the car over the last few races. It is crucial that you can match them on development, even better them, to be able to continue to fight them on track.
“The other thing is we collect a lot of data off the car, so pressures off the floor, pressures off the wings, loads on the car, and all that data is correlating really well with what we’re seeing in the wind tunnel.”
Shovlin said their findings are “crucial for next year” as their latest update was introduced with an eye on their future car design. “This floor is actually a step towards the development direction that we want to take for 2024,” he said, “So, very encouraging signs, but still a lot of work ahead of us.”
Mercedes struggled during the opening two practice sessions at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez last week but were in much better shape on the second day. Hamilton was quickest of all in Q2, but fell to sixth on the grid as he only had a single set of new tyres available for Q3.
The team’s simulation work overnight was key to the progress they made, said Shovlin.
“When we finished Friday, we analysed the problems with the car, we were discussing with the drivers where we need to improve it, and then we hand over to the simulator team back in Brackley, we had Tom Gamble, one of our development drivers, in the car this weekend, and they worked through the night going through a whole range of set-ups and luckily they found a nice direction where we were able to improve both the single-lap and the long run. That was a set-up that was showing it was easier on the rear tyres, which was important because that was what with limiting in the race work that we did on Friday.
“Then in FP3 you could pretty immediately see that those changes had put us into a happier place. Now, it’s easier when you do land the set-up in the right place. But the reality is with weather conditions changing and the cars being different one year to the next, you can’t guarantee that. And what’s really important is when you do have a difficult Friday that you’ve got the team and the tools in place to solve those problems and then come back fighting on Saturday.”
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2023 Mexican Grand Prix
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- Mercedes see “very encouraging signs” from Austin floor update