Mercedes wanted to put their season back on track with the updates introduced in Monaco. Not only was the shape of the sidepods changed, but a new front suspension was brought to improve some of the W14’s many weaknesses.
The car was not very fast over a single lap, unpredictable and did not give the drivers the right confidence to be able to push, as well as having an unstable rear.
It is not possible to correct everything with a single development, but the path taken by Monaco seems to be the right one, at least according to the technicians from the Anglo-German team.
Mercedes fourth-fastest in Canada, but closer than expected to Aston Martin and Ferrari
For several reasons, expectations for Montreal weren’t very high at Mercedes. Within the team, they were keen to manage expectations – aware that the encouraging pace shown in Barcelona could be influenced by the favourable characteristics of the circuit.
Perhaps more importantly than that, the nature of the Gilles Villeneuve circuit – with long straights and important braking sections – does not bode well with the characteristics of Hamilton and Russell’s car.
There was scepticism going into the weekend, but there were plenty of smiles in the Mercedes garage after the chequered flag.
“We knew in advance that this wasn’t going to be our best track because we have problems in particular with the slow corners,” said Lewis Hamilton, whose analysis was largely very similar to that of Andrew Shovlin:
“This track was more difficult for us than Barcelona, so it’s encouraging to see that in terms of pace, we were very close to Aston Martin and at Ferrari.”
As for George Russell’s retirement, the British driver’s stop was caused by a front brake setup that was not designed for the English driver to race in traffic. This led the right front disc to overheat and fail.
George Russell’s crash clearly cost the team valuable points, but Lewis Hamilton’s third place and genuine pace in the Grand Prix were clear positives for the German constructor.
In Brackley, satisfaction will be taken from the fact that -on a track that is not so friendly to the W14 – the gap remained very small.
Beyond this, however, as we anticipated after Barcelona, the greatest sign of encouragement came from the rediscovered track-simulator correlation, something that Toto Wolff directly confirmed after Montreal:
“Now the car is predictable and does exactly what the simulator says. And this hasn’t happened for a year and a half.”
This is fundamental to bringing developments from the factory to the track with confidence. Together with the team’s new understanding of its new concept, this could allow Mercedes to fight with Red Bull next season.
The evolution of the W14 doesn’t stop: new updates at Silverstone and before the break
“Aston Martin took a step forward this weekend thanks to its package of updates, but we are also working to bring something more,” said Lewis Hamilton after the race. Toto Wolff later confirmed this
“We will have another great package at Silverstone and something before the summer break. After the changes made to the machine concept, we learn faster and faster.
“If we improve as done with the latest updates, after the break, we will be able to fight with Red Bull,” the Austrian boss revealed to the media.
In reality, Mercedes believe that this will only be possible on certain types of circuits, for example, where there will be many fast corners, the strong point of this evolved W14.
The most important problem is the rear of the car, especially after the front was updated in Monaco with new mechanics. This solution has been especially helpful in allowing Lewis Hamilton to get a more positive feeling in the W14.
This has largely rectified the issues from the W14’s unusual, very advanced driving position – which was necessary on paper to optimise the now discarded ‘zeropods’ concept.
“I like being in the car at the moment a lot more because I can drive it in a better window,” said Hamilton.
It should not be forgotten that Lewis Hamilton’s suggestion from last autumn was not followed – when he asked the technical staff to return to a chassis and a more conventional driving position.
The seven-time world champion has also outlined the areas necessary for improvement.
“We need to get more downforce at the rear of the car and a little more efficiency,” said Lewis Hamilton after the race. The two things are directly related, at least from an aerodynamic point of view, as being able to obtain more load at the rear (through the floor) will allow the W14 to use more unloaded wings.
In fact, the Anglo-German car still pays the price for a significant deficit on the straight, in addition to the intrinsic drag of the W14, due to the choice of rear wings, as in Canada, larger than the competition.
Then there is a major lack of traction, which has been the W14’s great weakness in Canada.
“In traction from the slow corners, I was losing a lot to Fernando and Max,” said Hamilton. The traction of the Red Bull RB19 was especially impressive:
“The rear of Max’s car was incredibly firm coming out of the corners. This is why we still have a lot of work to do, but we are making small steps forward, and I’m sure we’ll get there sooner or later.”
Remembering that the W14 will still remain a car with limits, which can only be corrected next year with bigger changes to the chassis and the rear.
Meanwhile, the goal by the end of the season remains to bring the W14 closer to the level of the RB19: whilst also working to consolidate second position in the Championship against Aston Martin and Ferrari.
Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang