While Ferrari has admitted that it is already stopping development on its current F1-75 to focus entirely on the next course, at Mercedes it seems that there is still one last bullet left looking for, who knows, its first victory in the 2022 world championship.
But the update that the German team will introduce at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin for the next F1 appointment in the United States ( from October 21 to 23 ) is not only aimed at an improvement that allows it to challenge its two main rivals, but also goes further.
On the one hand, Mercedes could not avoid this year the ‘overweight’ in the new generation of cars that affected most teams, and the German team, like its rivals, has worked since the preseason on the balance between not losing performance and make the car lighter.
They have tried to reduce the weight of a car that was born with about 10 extra kilos, and part of the progress they expect in the United States GP is going in that direction. This was confirmed by Andrew Shovlin , Mercedes’ chief track engineer, who discussed the update for Austin.
But, in addition to the ‘diet’, the sight is already set on the W14 of the 2023 season, with which Lewis Hamilton and George Russell will try to fight again for wins and the championship.
“It’s our latest step in aerodynamic development and we hope it will give us a bit more performance,” Shovlin began by explaining.
“But the most important thing is that with each step we are learning more and more and that learning we can carry over into next year. Also, we have taken some weight off components that will hopefully bring the car closer to the weight limit.” .
Red Bull has already won the drivers’ title and Ferrari throws in the towel for another unsuccessful course, but Mercedes does not believe that the relaxation of these two teams will automatically put them ahead, especially with their deficit on Saturdays: “It is very difficult for us to predict where we are going to be. In Singapore, Lewis [Hamilton] was very close to pole position, but in Suzuka both cars were a big gap from the front.”
“Our race pace has been reasonably strong. If we can go one step further, hopefully we can get into the fight with the Ferraris and the Red Bulls, but qualifying for us is the hardest thing to predict at the moment.”
“But as I said, a lot of it is about learning and we’re definitely going to give our best in the last four races.”
One of the characteristics of the Austin circuit in recent years has been the potholes on the track, which could be a complete headache for Mercedes. Resurfacing the surface could help, but they don’t want to make predictions: “It’s a difficult place and it was for us last year. It was very bumpy, there was a lot of overheating of the tyres, and we weren’t performing as well as Red Bull with the soft”.
“They’ve resurfaced it, so hopefully the problems with the potholes will be minor. But what’s very difficult this year is really knowing where you’re going to be on a circuit before you go there.”
“We’re not really going to make any predictions about how we’re going to perform, we just have to go there on Friday, see what kind of problems we have, and then see if we can solve them with the set-up.
At the recent Japanese GP, with no rain DRS and a high downforce rear wing, both Hamilton with Ocon and a counter-attacking George Russell struggled to overtake.
That was one more indication of an area Mercedes needs to review for 2023: “Fundamentally, one of the things we need to improve on the car for next year is to get it to have more downforce at the lower levels of drag. (drag), and then we can race those lighter wings and still be competitive in the corners.”