Lewis Hamilton explains the latest upgrades to the Mercedes W14 are among the few to make a noticeable difference in recent years.
Several teams introduced upgrades this weekend, although the Sprint format has complicated efforts to optimise set-up and extract full performance. At Mercedes, however, there has been consistent speed in the W14 since Free Practice.
It is difficult to say how much the newest updates have contributed to this. The Silver Arrows were also competitive in Qatar, and many teams have challenged Red Bull in qualifying throughout the season.
Technical Director James Allison has estimated the upgrade package this weekend will only produce “one-tenth” in lap time. The bigger emphasis of these changes is to prepare the team for next year’s car.
However, Lewis Hamilton explained post-qualifying that these changes are among the first he’s felt noticeable improvement from:
“I don’t know really if it’s a signifier of anything for next year. As we continue to experiment, we get more and more knowledge of where we are going…
“The floor is not a huge amount different. There’s always hype with someone’s upgrade, but the rest of the car is exactly the same. And there are lots of areas in which we can improve.
“But this is an improvement. This is one of the first upgrades that I’ve actually felt over the last two years.
“So that’s a positive, and we just need two or three times this step to put us in, you know, super competitive mode, which I believe the guys can do.”
Starting from third place, Hamilton will be within striking range of Leclerc and Norris on Sunday. Although there is little data to analyse in terms of race pace, the Silver Arrows are typically more competitive over a race distance.
With Max Verstappen starting in 6th place, there could be more opportunities for action at the front. However, the final result this weekend may only be a secondary thought for Toto Wolff’s team.
The priority will be to correlate their latest updates with their simulation and wind tunnel. If the new parts are working as expected, there is reason to be confident about the German constructors’ development path for 2024.
Focusing on this weekend, Lewis Hamilton should have a car capable of fighting for a podium – and potentially more – in COTA.