Concerns emerge over Mercedes BIG Imola upgrade

Christian Horner could be forgiven for feeling the most smug team principal in the formula One paddock right now. Five races in and his team has delivered its best start to the season ever with five wins, a Sprint victory and four 1-2 results.

Red Bull are already out of sight and its not inconceivable that by the conclusion of the next round in Italy, the Milton Keynes team could have accumulated as many points as Aston Martin, Mercedes and Ferrari when added together.



Horner lambasted 6 months ago

Yet just over six months ago, Horner was being lambasted by his arch rival Toto Wolff following the FIA leak that Red Bull were in breach of the cost cap.

McLaren’s boss Zak Brown wrote to the FIA demanding harsh penalties and called Red Bull ‘cheats’ which drew a threat of defamation litigation from an angry Horner at the press conference in Austin, Texas.

The team was hit with the second largest financial penalty ever issued in Formula One and handicapped over the amount of wind tunnel time they could utilise over 12 months.

However, the annual aero testing allowance is broken down into 6 periods of roughly 8 weeks in length and the allowance within that period cannot be carried over if unused.



Red Bull no upgrades planned

The fact that Red Bull Racing have brought no upgrades to their car this season does not mean they are not running aerodynamic simulations and using their wind tunnel allowances. It simply means we don’t know what they’ve been doing – yet.

It could be with the new ground effect cars that the teams just need time to do the data collection required to understand how best to set up the cars they already have.

Clearly the RB19 needs little improvement at the moment but that’s something Christian Horner believes will begin to change as the teams begin the European season. Further, the RB19 will be upgraded only “later in the season.”

Mercedes are set to bring a HUGE upgrade to their car for the next race in Imola. Lewis Hamilton said in Miami “I’m trying to stay positive with it. We’re working as hard as we can, we’re dying [for], desperately need those upgrades, that’s for sure.

Schumacher race seat available



Ferrari approach to understand the platform

Ferrari’s new boss Frederic Vasseur refused to be drawn on the annual upgrade race that is so often typical in a formula One season. At the car launch he declared the team would focus for some time on ensuring they understand how to set up the SF-23 and that loads of upgrades just cloud the picture.

Ferrari did bring a front wing endplate upgrade to Saudi Arabia and new cooling louvres for the heat of Miami, but they have stuck to the task of attempting to understand the ‘platform’ they are working with even though at times it appears they’ve made little progress.



Mercedes go for tradition BIG upgrade route

Mercedes on the other hand have the BIG upgrade package Lewis is so desperate for coming to Imola.

“What we’re doing is we’re introducing a new bodywork, and we’re introducing a new floor and we’re doing a new front suspension and that’s pretty large,” revealed Toto Wolff in Miami.

“That’s a pretty large operation. Large surgery. It’s going to be a lot of learning in the virtual world, where it is good lap time.”

Horner taunts Mercedes



Wolff admits car “poisonous” to drive

The question is whether this kind of approach is the best way forward with these new era of F1 cars?

Further, by doing this aren’t Mercedes in effect just starting from scratch? The number of new variables being introduced is huge like the Ferrari and Red Bull methodology of change one thing, see the effect, change it another way… etc.

Yet the time is fast approaching when teams will be starting to hone in on the design of the major components of the 2024 cars and Wolff suggests trialing these extensive Imola upgrades will affect the choices they make for next season.

“That’s why the upgrade that we’re bringing is going to help us to set the direction, and to understand the various areas that we believe could play a role in why the car is so poisonous to drive,” said Toto.



Mercedes looking for a stable base

The reality is Mercedes have give up hope for this season. Yes they’ll battle with Ferrari and Aston Martin for best of the rest together with maybe another win at their favoured track in Brazil.

However, the probe for the Brackley team is they are still groping in the dark for the basic building blocks of their future car, while the rest are on with framing the superstructure.

“[I’m hoping] we can go more to a stable platform, and then we should see where the baseline is and what we can do from there,” Wolff concluded.

Alpine boss slams the team



No silver bullets

Clearly the Mercedes chief realises there are no quick fixes to their problems.

“Never in my 15 years in F1 seen a silver bullet being introduced, where suddenly you unlock half a second of performance. So, I very much doubt that this is going to happen here.”

This is not how Lewis Hamilton is seeing the promise of the Imola miracle on Tamburello corner.



Hamilton predicts “the same as it is for years..”

Mercedes’ drivers want a better car and they want it now, while in reality and behind the scenes it is the basis for next years hopeful is being evaluated.

Hamilton is clearly impatient maybe due to his advancing age.

“It’s just unfortunate that we still see the same sort of gaps between the teams. I don’t know what the solution is for the future, but we are going to have to adapt to these regulations.

“Otherwise it could be the same as it is now for years.”

READ MORE: Marko reveals Mercedes influencing FIA

One response to “Concerns emerge over Mercedes BIG Imola upgrade

  1. “Wolff admits car “poisonous” to drive…..”
    A perfect match. A toxic TP, toxic fake champion driver and a toxic team… all need a poisonous car. Elliot has to be complemented for achieving it. Hope that Allison continues the good work.
    F1 will turn a corner when the fake champion retires and the greedy, evil and political Wolff resigns to go count his billions. I fervently hope to live to see that day!

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