After a sub-standard start to the year for Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton is hopeful the W14’s Imola upgrade package can put his team on the correct path.
It only took one race for Toto Wolff to declare the team was taking a new direction – with the Bahrain GP confirming the concerns at Brackley that stemmed from pre-season.
James Allison’s return to the technical director role, which Mike Elliot has now vacated, represents the pursuit of something different with the W14.
Many of the fundamental issues that plagued Mercedes last season have carried over into this year, preventing the Silver Arrows from challenging Red Bull’s RB19 machine.
There has been plenty of speculation about the team’s unique sidepod design, but senior personnel at Brackley have insisted this will not be the area of focus.
It remains to be seen how quickly Mercedes can establish the necessary foundations to improve their trajectory and avoid the ‘dead end’ Toto Wolff has warned of.
Lewis Hamilton will certainly be hopeful of a relatively fast turnaround, as he explained in Baku post-race:
“There was great prep before coming here, a couple of days at the factory, plenty of sim running – I’m really proud of the team.
“The mentality in the team is great, such a winning mindset, and everyone is so focused on progressing and getting to where we know we can get to,” he said to the media.
“It’s just taking some steps… I think this is just a build to getting to where we need to be.
“And that’s all we can ask for right now until we can get those upgrades – which will hopefully put us much more in the fight.
“We knew from early on we’d have some races until this upgrade, so I’ve just been counting the days and weeks down.
“We don’t know exactly how good the upgrade will be, but we know it will be the start of something new for us.”
Whilst upgrades never guarantee performance, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell will be eager for an indication the team can erode some of Red Bull’s advantage.
Mercedes has no choice but to pursue an aggressive mid-season development plan, or else they risk another disappointing F1 campaign.
Not only is the W14’s fate dependent on these improvements, but the German squad’s chances of 2024 success will also depend on addressing their current underlying issues.
Miami will provide a different test compared to the unique Baku street circuit, but Mercedes will have a greater understanding of their trajectory once the long-awaited Imola upgrades arrive.