Mercedes prepare Silverstone updates to respond after Austria

Mercedes W14
Differenze tra la Mercedes W14 e la W14B introdotta a Montecarlo

In the Austrian GP weekend, ​​two teams were notable in falling short of initial expectations: Aston Martin and Mercedes. The result was a race with significant gaps to Max Verstappen’s Red Bull, which was five-tenths a lap faster than Ferrari.

Considering the short nature of Austria’s Spielberg circuit, it seems the upgrade packages brought to the SF-23 hadn’t significantly shortened the gap to Red Bull.

“If we want, we still have some more performance,” said a victorious Max Verstappen. The Dutchman was, on average, eight-tenths ahead of Aston Martin and a good nine ahead of Mercedes.

This confirms that Ferrari’s steps forward in Austria were not insignificant. It’s Max and his Red Bull who have gone faster than in recent races. We will see another story in Silverstone.

Mercedes disappoint Austria, struggle with Sprint format

Mercedes arrived in Austria hopeful they could keep the positive performance and momentum from Montreal. However, the W14 was worse than expected.

“It was brutally difficult, even worse than we thought, ” said Toto Wolff after Hamilton and Russell crossed the line in P7 and P8.

“We thought Austria could be better for us because the slow corners were only 3 and 4. OK, to lose time there, but then we had to make up for it in the fast corners, and instead, we lose more time than our rivals in the last sector,” he explained.

One of the most significant problems that remained unsolved on the W14 was a rear end that never gave its two drivers enough confidence to push.

Mercedes W14
The modified front suspension introduced in Montecarlo – Illustration by Rosario Giuliana

With the Montecarlo update, Mercedes has taken important steps forward at the front with a new and redesigned suspension.

“Now we need to solve the problem with the rear. However, the car in Barcelona and Montreal was much more predictable, so we certainly missed something in terms of setup,” said a Mercedes engineer in Austria

They then underlined how the lack of free practice, beyond the one and only hour allocated due to the Sprint weekend, did not allow Mercedes to improve upon a poor baseline setup.

This situation was not dissimilar to the one experienced in Barcelona, ​​where Mick Schumacher was busy on the simulator and worked to solve the negatives between Friday and Saturday.

To better balance the car, Lewis admitted that he had “removed a lot of load from the front wing,” which was manageable in qualifying on a low-fuel car – but not so much in the race. This instability was worsened by the 100 kg onboard the W14, which was still rather unbalanced at the rear, suffering from a lot of understeer.

It is no coincidence that the seven-time world champion received a 5-second penalty for track limits after just a few laps. “Our car was just slow. We had issues with the front and rear tyres. We just weren’t in the right operating window,” admitted George Russell at the end of the race.

An important package arrives in Silverstone, albeit a smaller one than in Monaco

Of the final three races before the summer break, Silverstone should have the layout that suits the W14 best.

“I’m positive because the track is more like Barcelona than Austria,” believes George Russell – not just in terms of layout, but also in terms of tyres. Silverstone is a more front-limited track, where the excellent front end of the W14 should help the two British drivers.

However, there is an important question mark surrounding the tyres that will make their debut this weekend.

Pirelli and many teams indicate that they are the same in terms of behaviour and performance, while another team told us in Austria that the C1 front (tested in Barcelona practice) was ‘stronger’ than the specification used up to now.

If this is true, the W14 would be penalised because the new specifications would help Aston Martin and, above all, Ferrari, i.e. the cars with a weaker front end.

To improve the W14’s slow-moving behaviour, especially in the middle of the corners, a new package of updates will arrive at Silverstone.

However, these changes will not be at the level of what was brought to the track in Montecarlo, according to the team itself.

On the topic of updates, Mercedes showed no annoyance with the Fiorano filming day used by Ferrari to test the updates that made their debut at the Red Bull Ring.

Author: Piergiuseppe Donadoni
Illustrations: Rosario Giuliana

Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang