Mercedes technical director James Allison has confirmed the team will continue their upgrade push this weekend in Barcelona, as part of a “whole bunch more things” that will be added to the W14 in the coming races.
The team placed on their first significant upgrade package of the season in Monaco, having been delayed a week following the cancellation of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, with team principal and CEO Toto Wolff having ordered wholesale changes to the car’s design philosophy after starting the season behind the pace-setting Red Bull.
Mercedes count themselves among the chasing pack also containing Aston Martin and Ferrari for the ‘best of the rest’ tag as it stands, but that does not satisfy the eight-time Constructors’ champions in how they go about their racing, with the first significant step in changing their car coming last time out with the abandoning of the ‘zero-pod’ sidepod inlet concept with which they began the 2022 season, along with introducing new front suspension.
Wolff explained that the Spanish Grand Prix will double up as a data-gathering exercise for the team as the uniqueness of Monaco does not lend itself into being a useful testing venue, but the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya – a long-time test circuit for the sport – very much fits the bill.
With that, though, Allison confirmed Mercedes would not just rest on what they brought with them to Monte Carlo last time out, and would continue their development push with another small upgrade in Barcelona, with plenty more to come in the following races too.
“Well, we certainly will settle back and look at what the Monaco upgrade package has brought us at a more normal track, but we will also push on in parallel with a whole bunch more things,” Allison said in Mercedes’ post-Monaco debrief.
“So, there will be a little bit we’re bringing to Barcelona and many more things in the races that follow.
“We can’t afford just to do everything sequentially. Although there’s a sort of academic purity to that, it’s just too slow a way of going ahead, so the upgrades will keep coming.
“Hopefully a decent package to build upon what we put on the track in in Monaco, and then we just step forward from here up to the summer break and beyond.”
With the tight, twisting streets of Monaco not acting as good testing territory for the newly-upgraded W14, Allison spoke of how driver feedback played into the team’s initial reaction to how the new parts went down.
Lewis Hamilton in particular spoke positively about how his new, improved chassis handled, while Wolff acknowledged the rear of the car in particular was still “nasty” for the drivers to wrestle around the track.
But now that Formula 1 heads back to a more conventional circuit in Barcelona, there will be time for the team to run the numbers in a way they are used to doing, but there were no “alarm bells” to take away from Monaco nonetheless.
“I would say it’s too early to say what their impact will be on the rest of the season because Monaco is such a terribly difficult place to make these sorts of judgements at,” Allison explained.
“We didn’t set the world on fire in qualifying, the car had reasonably tidy race pace and we’ll wait and find out at the next race to see where we truly stand in a more a more normal track.
“But the drivers seemed to give reasonable feedback about the car, felt good under braking, car felt okay, and the data that we took off the car on the aerodynamic sensors were not giving us any alarm bells, they were sort of suggesting that things were in line with expectation.”