Mercedes W15 to get more upgrades in bid to reclaim winning form

Mercedes plans to introduce more W15 upgrades in bid to reclaim winning form

According to James Allison, the Mercedes W15 has improved significantly in the hands of drivers after the roll out of the latest upgrade package.

Mercedes plans to upgrade its Formula 1 car for 2024 at a rate its rivals cannot match, with a continual stream of upgrades that will result in it “bullying” its way back to the front amid the team’s return to form at the Canadian Grand Prix.

Last weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix marked the first race in 2024 which Mercedes battled near the front following George Russell’s pole position and Sunday’s third-place finish.

Qualifying saw Russell take pole position by 0.000 seconds after setting a time that was exactly the same as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen – but crucially before the Dutchman – and the British driver proceeded to dominate the opening laps on Sunday with great confidence before fading back as the conditions improved.

Russell was able to remain in contention thanks to strategy and Safety Cars, but lost the chance to battle for second place or even the win because of a critical mistake in the final laps battling with Oscar Piastri despite being among the fastest cars on the track following a “free” pit stop under the last Safety Car.

Russell spearheaded the Mercedes charge as Lewis Hamilton struggled to fully reach his teammate’s form. The seven-time world champion labelled his outing one of his “worst drives” as he recovered to fourth from seventh having been the pacesetting driver in FP3.

As a result, the 26-year old secured Mercedes’ first podium in a Grand Prix this season and confirmed the W15 had improved after recent upgrades.

At the team’s post-race debriefing, Mercedes technical director James Allison was questioned about the effect of the new front wing that was introduced on Russell’s car in Monaco.

“I would say yes,” he confirmed the front wing upgrade was working as planned. “We had got an idea of how it would behave because we had run it the previous race in Monaco with just George on that occasion.

“We had two of them in Montreal, and we expected it to perform well. We expected it to deliver a bit more in Canada than it did in Monaco, because the Canada circuit, although unusual, is more of a normal circuit than Monaco was.

“It delivered more performance, it made the car feel easy to drive and well-balanced, and made the car the driver’s friend rather than the thing they had been fighting, which has been what has been problematic in the opening part of the season for us.”

Mercedes also updated their floor body in Monaco as well as changing their front suspension for Montreal and Allison stated that the changes made by the Brackley-based team give some hope that the W15 has started to live up to its pre-season potential.

“There is an undercurrent of great happiness, but also a little bit of ‘Oh, you know, that could have been a win,'” Allison said of the team’s performance in Canada.

“You cannot put that out of your mind, however hard you try. But the main feeling is just a delight that this was another step forward for the car. The first weekend where we could claim to be nicely competitive and maybe a bellwether for better things to come.”

The main goal of the upgrades has been to improve the operating window in which the W15 performs well. Over the early stages of the season the car delivered remarkable bursts of speed, before abruptly losing speed over the last few weeks.

“I think we have broadened it substantially,” Allison explained.

“There is more we still need to do, and we will know for sure when we go to the next track, which is Barcelona, because there is really a very substantial range of cornering conditions.

“There is also a much hotter track, and so that will be quite a stern test of a vehicle.”

Allison acknowledged that planned upgrades are probably going to widen the car’s operating window considerably, but was unable to speculate as to whether the car would be competitive at every circuit going forward.

“The changes we have made are making this car a better car,” he said. “And that will be true at every circuit we go to.

“The characteristics of Montreal make it look a little quicker than we have a natural right to command at the coming races.

“In Barcelona, I think it more likely that we will be competitive, but not right at the front. Because the next tracks are a little bit of a sterner test of a car.

“Hot asphalt, wider cornering speeds. However, I also know what we have got coming. I also know what we are planning to further improve the car. Our challenge is just to keep those upgrades arriving at a pace that the others cannot keep up with.

“In doing that, just bullying our car to the front by virtue of the effort made by everybody here over the coming weeks and months to get the car so that it can have its Montreal weekend or better at any track that we face in the future.”

As to whether it will now suit other tracks, given the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is an outlier with its unusual configuration, is the acid test that will be faced when F1 returns to Europe and the triple-header of Barcelona, Austria, and Great Britain.

Leave a Reply