Mercedes set to introduce further upgrades in Imola

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Mercedes will introduce further upgrades this weekend's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix as it intends to cut back its deficit to the field-leading Red Bull at the opening round of the European leg of the season.

Mercedes has endured a tough start to the 2024 F1 season. The Brackley-based outfit was hopeful that it finally gets on top of the technical issues it has suffered from since the introduction of the ground-effect cars. However, the team's W15 appears to be a step backwards compared to the rivals as the Anglo-German team has not only been slower than the field-leading Red Bull, but it has slipped down behind McLaren and Ferrari in the pecking order as well.

The W15 has shown flashes of impressive speed, but it has been extremely inconsistent, with its speed having fluctuated from race to race and from session to session.

Last weekend's Miami Grand Prix saw Mercedes introduce several upgrades. The most significant change revolved around the floor. Moreover, the team has also altered the front suspension to improve the flow from the front to the back of the car.

Appearing on Mercedes’ post-race debrief show, Shovlin said that the upgrades worked as the team had expected ahead of the weekend.

“We managed to pull forward about half of our update kit to Miami and the other half is going to arrive in Imola. We’re working very hard on the future races to try and bring developments to them as well.

“Did it work as expected? Yes, it all looks like it’s delivering the performance that we were hoping for from the floor. The issue at the moment is everyone else is developing their cars."

However, Shovlin admitted that his team has get on top of the performance fluctuation as any impact of their upgrades will be limited as long as they do not manage to make the W15 more consistent in a wider operating window.

“You saw McLaren with a big package and they look to have moved forward. And also, the handling issues that the drivers are having to battle with are making it hard to really see all that performance as a straight step forward.

“What we tend to find is that the car can behave quite differently from session to session and, until we get on top of that, we’re always going to blunt the benefit that we can get on top of that we’re always going to blunt the benefit that we can get from these type of updates.

Shovlin also said that Mercedes managed to solve several issues that hampered their performance last year, but they also appear to have generated new problems with the direction they have taken last year. As a result, Mercedes will introduce further upgrades to its car in the coming races in order to solve their newest issues with the W15.

“But after the last few races, we’ve now got a very clear idea of what we need to do to the car to get it handling a bit more easily for the drivers, making sure it goes where they want it to go when they’re on those important qualifying laps. And we’ve also got a good thread of updates that’ll be coming over the next three or four races. A lot of hard work going on but hopefully we will start to see the fruits of that soon.”

“The fact is that the stopwatch doesn’t lie and we know that probably some of the changes we’ve made since the end of last year perhaps overcompensated with some of the development items we did. We have limitations with the car now which is a totally different limitation to what we had this time 12 months ago.

“We did so much work to solve the problems, we’ve kind of gone too far in that direction. We know we need to improve and we need to improve quickly.”