Mercedes admit upgrade cockup

The talk of the paddock following the 2023 British Grand Prix was as Lewis Hamilton described, the “rocket ship” of the McLaren MCL60. Whilst beating Hamilton to second on the podium was a great result for Lando Norris, far more important was the performance of his rookie team mate.

Piastri qualified third behind Norris and would have claimed his first podium finish but for the vagaries of the Safety Car timing which let benefitted Hamilton and not the young Australian.



Mercedes design team stubborn

Mercedes were the dominant team for almost a decade until the big F1 rule changes which saw the return of ground effect car designs in 2022. 

Despite having a stunning zero pod design car, the World Champion team’s entry last season looked anything but a championship contender and its lack of performance cost Lewis Hamilton his record of a race win in every year since he joined Formula One.

Clearly the much quicker Red Bull was used on a different design philosophy than the Mercedes W13, but the team again stuck with their principles when this years successor car was launched.

Being no closer to Red Bull, Mercedes quickly ditched their design and returned to one where side pods again featured on their car.



McLaren worth taking note of

Yet in his recent comments following the British Grand Prix debrief, Mercedes technical director James Allison reveals what some may find a shocking and arrogant view inherent in the Mercedes design team.

When asked about the leap in McLaren’s performance, Allison revealed:

“The interesting and unusual thing about the McLaren upgrade is that its lap time effect is quite strong. It’s unusual to have a step of that size of relative competitiveness in the middle of a season and chapeau to them.”

“They’ve done a 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.”

F1 insider whispers on driver moves




Aston Martin thrown away 2nd

However, despite being comprehensively overtaken by the new Aston Martin design this season, Allison has had little to say about potential influences Mercedes could take from the Silverstone team.

Had Alonso a team mate who could delver anything like the Spaniard can from the car, Aston would be well clear of Mercedes in the constructors’ title race.

Williams big upgrade excitement



Mercedes refuse to copy Red Bull

Allison’s concluding comments on McLaren are also rather strange given Mercedes have repeatedly refused to follow the Red Bull design philosophy, something McLaren are now doing well.

“So it’s well worth us paying more attention than we normally might to another competitor team’s upgrade because in this case [McLaren], we know that whatever changed has made a meaningful difference to their lap time.

“It’s quite useful for us to know what that was and see whether it can play into our own thoughts of developing our own car.”

Mercedes brought a much hyped new front being to Silverstone, though it appeared to be a step backwards in qualifying as both Russell and Hamilton finished behind Verstappen and both Ferrari’s and Mclaren’s.



New rear wing upgrade

Again asked in the team debrief how he felt the new wing had performed, Allison was cautious stating, “It’s a bit too early to tell.”

“The specific characteristics of this new front-wing that we are excited about, is that it should improve the balance and performance of the car through the slower range of the corners.

Then strangely Allison confirmed the new wing was not idea for the characteristics of the Silverstone track.

“Now, Silverstone is famous for lots of things but lots and lots of slow corners is not one of them. What we took as a comfort from Silverstone is that in the slower parts of the track, we were looking pretty decently competitive.

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Tyre wear may have improved

This sounds like an upgrade cockup and similar to taking a Monaco huge downforce rear wing to Monza where in fact a skinny slippery rear wing is the order of the day.

Mercedes have struggled with tyre wear this season and the fact George Russell started the race on the soft tyre and completed an impressive 28 laps before pitting for fresh rubber suggests the new front wing may have delivered some improvement to the W14.

This issue is somewhat clouded due to the fact Pirelli brought a new design of dry weather compounds to the British Grand Prix.

With Spa and Monza on the horizon the new Mercedes upgrade may be missing when the F1 circus decamps at these particular venues. 

Although the upcoming race at the Hungaroring will be of particular interest with its low speed traction requirements. All eyes will be on whether the McLaren upgrades trump the somewhat mysterious Mercedes new front wing.

READ MORE: McLaren WILL challenge Verstappen in Hungary

4 responses to “Mercedes admit upgrade cockup

  1. The problem is that the capable and superbly knowledgeable Mercedes are not allowed to operate freely and are frequently tripped up ang hogtied by a certain self-styled genius engineer.
    The cockups will continue until the ‘genius’ retires and the Merc engineers are allowed to
    do their work.

  2. I’d love to live an hour in your head, Vijay – in fact actually, scrap that… all that rage, anger and bitterness must be awful

      • Come on now Duckey, you are smarter than that, surely. None of the bile that Vijay spouts towards Lewis, Toto or Mercedes is ironic

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