Mercedes has brought an upgrade to the Austrian Grand Prix that Toto Wolff says constitutes a “little change in concept” for the team’s aerodynamic development.
Lewis Hamilton led a Mercedes one-two in each of the two practice sessions on Friday at the Red Bull Ring, following on from his victory in France last weekend. The win at Paul Ricard came after the introduction of a power unit upgrade, and Wolff says an aerodynamic update could prove crucial in the title race.
“We were supposed to introduce the new power unit in Montreal [but] we weren’t quite sure whether it matched our reliability standards and you could see that once everybody introduced their upgrade, we fell behind,” Wolff said. “A track that suited us, suddenly we weren’t good enough anymore. Then we brought the next step to Le Castellet and directly the drivers felt the difference between an engine that was in there for seven races and a brand-new one.
“The same applies now to the chassis side. We have tried to compress what we had in terms of aero development and bring it at once, so the whole concept… there is this little change in concept in our aero development and so far the drivers seem to be happy with it.
“It is a necessary step. Red Bull and Ferrari are not going to rest on their laurels. We keep pushing each other from race to race, from upgrade to upgrade. Even if you can put on another 50 milliseconds for the race you will do it, because that might be the difference between pole position and P3.”
While topping both sessions, Wolff is expecting Mercedes to face a stern challenge from both Ferrari and Red Bull in Austria, saying Friday performance has not always translated into qualifying results this season.
“The Friday has been giving little indication as to how the weekend goes in the last few races. It is more a learning process. Teams have introduced either new upgrades on the power unit or upgrades on the chassis side and therefore it’s about mileage and understanding and working on various setups.
“I’m happy how it went. Austria was a kind track to us in the past — lots of power up the hill. But you can see that the new reality is there are three teams capable of putting the car on the front and winning races, and just a few hundredths or tenths between us. And I have no doubt that tomorrow in qualifying that story will continue.”