As part of its strategy for next year’s W15, Mercedes is aiming to design a car that provides ample room for development and enables the team to make significant advancements within the season, akin to McLaren’s leap this year.
Due to new regulations introduced last year, Mercedes had to focus on addressing prominent issues such as the bouncing problem that emerged in 2022.
A considerable amount of resources were expended this year on modifying the aerodynamic concept early in the season, and then learning how to maximize the performance of the updated car.
Shovlin, a team representative, has stated that the team plans to prioritize performance enhancement in 2024. The team aims not to be limited by early design decisions, as was the case with the previous sidepod concept.
“In the current regulatory environment and given how the cars function, we’ve been focused on troubleshooting,” he stated in a team video. “It could be solving a bouncing issue or a balance problem.
“However, as we make headway, the focus of car development shifts towards purely seeking performance improvements.
“The idea is to reduce attention to an extensive problem list and concentrate on improving lap times.
“The objective for next year’s car is to make critical decisions that leave us with ample scope for development. You can observe this year how much all teams are improving as the season progresses, and we need to ensure we can match that.
Photo by: Zak Mauger / F1 Flow Images
“As I mentioned, we aim to focus less on solving a list of problems and more on improving lap times significantly, which hopefully will put us back in regular pole positions and challenge for wins,” Shovlin added.
Shovlin also offered more insight into why Lewis Hamilton and George Russell faced early challenges in the Hungarian race.
Both drivers were asked to lift and coast to manage temperatures when the team realized that the cooling provision was insufficient.
“We encountered a problem where our prediction for cooling resulted in undercooling, so we’re looking into why this discrepancy occurred,” explained Shovlin. “The repercussion was that we had to ask the drivers to lift and coast.
“In this process, drivers take their foot off the throttle before the end of the straight, coasting into the first part of the entry phase into the corner without brakes, and then apply brakes later.
“This method helps cool the power unit, but at the expense of lap time. Consequently, neither driver could effectively challenge the cars in front of them.”
After dealing with the temperature issue, both drivers could increase their speed in the later stages, resulting in Hamilton finishing fourth and Russell sixth.
“Later in the race, we were in a better temperature window due to clearer air, which allowed them to challenge the cars in front and demonstrate superior pace. The tyre degradation was also favourable,” Shovlin concluded.
“We saw better performance towards the end of our stints compared to the beginning. This was particularly evident with George’s performance in the final stage of the first stint.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Mercedes F1 Performance Strategy
What is the main objective for Mercedes’ next year’s car, W15?
The main objective for Mercedes’ W15 is to design a car with plenty of scope for development that will enable the team to make significant in-season advancements and concentrate on optimizing performance.
What was a major challenge Mercedes faced with the current regulations?
A significant challenge Mercedes faced with the current regulations was the “bouncing issue” that emerged in 2022, which required the team to concentrate on troubleshooting and problem-solving.
How did Mercedes’ early design choices impact their performance?
Early design choices, particularly related to the sidepod concept, limited the team’s development options, preventing them from fully focusing on performance optimization. They plan to avoid such limitations in the future.
What was the problem Lewis Hamilton and George Russell faced in the Hungarian race?
Hamilton and Russell faced temperature management issues in the Hungarian race due to an underestimation of cooling needs. As a result, they were asked to “lift and coast,” which cooled the power unit but cost them lap time.
What is the team’s strategy to overcome these problems in the future?
The team plans to shift their focus more on performance improvement, reducing their attention to an extensive problem list. The aim is to make significant improvements in lap times and regularly secure pole positions and challenge for wins.