Mercedes enjoyed a significant advantage in their tyre management compared to its direct rivals when 2023 began. However, recent events indicate this strength is slowly being diminished.
The Silver Arrows have worked to improve the W14 throughout the year. Fundamentally, James Allision was brought back into the team to correct the mistaken development direction pursued over winter.
However, the German constructor is also conscious that it will take time to implement its desired changes. The budget cap forces Mercedes to be pragmatic in its allocation of resources.
Therefore, the 2024 season is when more large-scale changes will be introduced at Brackley. Most of this year’s campaign has been dedicated to establishing a baseline to build upon.
F1’s current generation of cars has proven highly sensitive, so creating a large operating window is now essential for consistent performance.
In qualifying, for example, the W14 struggles to generate the same performance as rivals Ferrari – despite often having more speed on race day.
Speaking after the Japanese GP, Andrew Shovlin was candid about the team’s position:
“I think the performance deficit was there in qualifying, where we have a bit less performance through the fast corners.
“It’s the same thing that was costing us in the race…
“Ferrari did bring an upgraded floor, so maybe they’ve moved forward.
“But I think if we look at some of our recent tracks, that advantage we had with degradation, it’s not as evident now in the season as it was in earlier races.”
Ferrari has actually approached this year in a similar way to Mercedes, preparing itself to make a substantial jump over winter.
Red Bull’s wind tunnel deficit has limited its ability to progress, but is is incumbent on the likes of Mercedes to correct their mistakes and establish themselves as contenders next season.
Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang