Mercedes with new developments at Imola… but when will we see progress?

At Imola, Mercedes will bring the second part of the new developments introduced in Miami with the hope of finally progressing in the hierarchy... and quickly because the competition is moving forward.

Published on 14/05/2024 à 11:51

Dorian Grangier

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Mercedes with new developments at Imola… but when will we see progress?

© Eric Alonso / DPPI

Do you have the feeling of reading the same articles, the same speeches, week after week, on the slightest paper evoking Mercedes en Formula 1 ? Don't worry, so do we! The Grands Prix pass and the German team does not seem to be progressing in any way, floundering in the middle of the pack since the start of the season.

The observation is alarming for a team of such stature and with such an impressive track record: no podium in the first six races of the year in 2024! That's the worst start to the season since 2012. To remedy this sad record, the Star brand is trying to push the development of its W15 as much as possible. After the introduction of a first burst of developments in Florida – where Lewis Hamilton and George Russell finished 6th and 8th respectively – Mercedes will bring the second part of the advanced package to Imola, announced Andrew Shovlin in a debriefing video published after the Miami Grand Prix.

“We managed to advance about half of our batch of developments in Miami and the other half will arrive in Imola. We are working hard on the upcoming races to try to bring developments there as well, said Mercedes' director of track engineering. Did [the developments in Miami] work as planned? Yes, it seems that the performance is up to our expectations. The problem right now is that everyone else is developing their cars. You did see, McLaren [introduced] a big package and they seem to have progressed. Also, the handling issues that drivers have to contend with make it difficult to really see all of this performance as any kind of direct advancement. »

Mercedes must understand a capricious W15

Indeed, the two Britons – beyond a lack of pace in the face of direct competition – complain in particular of a car with random and unpredictable performance. In Miami, Lewis Hamilton was in total incomprehension after qualifying. “The car was really mega in Q2 all of a sudden! But in Q3, she disappeared again, worried the seven-time world champion. It's the first time it's really worked in Q2 this year, I would say. But, we don't know why we lost pace afterwards, II couldn't tell you, honestly. »

A unique and painful characteristic for Mercedes, which has to deal with such a scourge over the sessions. “What we tend to find is that the car can behave differently from one session to the next and until we get that under control we will always blunt the benefits that we can get from that guy developments, continues Andrew Shovlin, who is optimistic for the rest of the season.

“But after the last few races we now have a very clear idea of ​​what we need to do to the car to make it handle a little easier for the drivers, making sure it goes where they want it to go. 'she goes when they do those important qualifying rounds. And we also have a good program for the developments that will be made over the next three or four races. There's a lot of work being done, but hopefully we'll start seeing the fruits of it soon. »

Mandatory results with new developments

After Imola, the Formula 1 circus will travel to circuits with very different characteristics, with a Monaco – Canada – Spain sequence. As announced above, Mercedes will attempt to continually bring updates to its W15 throughout the Grands Prix, but reading the true potential of the car silver will not be easy on this type of track. According to Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes will have to prioritize placing their car within the performance window on each track.

“If you take a track like Montreal, you're only dealing with one 'speed range', it can be a little easier to get the car into the [performance] window. We all do the normal preparation work, but fundamentally we have to develop our way of solving this problem by making performance upgrades to the car, believes the British engineer. This is what we are working on. Then, on the track, we'll just try to maximize what we have as best we can, and earn as many points as possible in the meantime. It’s really on these two areas that we are working simultaneously. »

Collecting points has become an obligation for Mercedes if it wants to stay in the fight against McLaren for 3rd place in the Constructors' championship. The victory of Lando Norris in Miami widened the gap between the two teams to the advantage of the Oranges: now, the Silver Arrows are 60 points behind their rivals after only six races! The urgency is already there, and with the flight of several executives to competitors – the latest are Jérôme d'Ambrosio and Loïc Serra at Ferrari – yet another disappointing result could well plunge Mercedes into an unprecedented crisis…

ALSO READ > Haas in turmoil before Imola?

Dorian Grangier

A young journalist nostalgic for the motorsport of yesteryear. Raised on the exploits of Sébastien Loeb and Fernando Alonso.

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Yves-Henri RANDIER

14/05/2024 at 12:23 a.m.

The competition is indeed advancing, particularly those with a Mercedes customer engine!!

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