Mercedes’ upgrades at the Emilia-Romagna grand prix are designed to put the team in a position to challenge for championships in future rather than solely have an immediate impact, trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin says.
Mercedes bring a new front suspension, floor and bodywork configuration to Imola as it looks to rectify a tough start to the season during which the team felt it didn’t have the potential to fight with Red Bull with its previous car concept. While the upgrades come with significant anticipation due to Mercedes’ position as one of the three teams closest to Red Bull, Shovlin says they will be just the first part of a longer term redirection designed to close the gap.
“If we go all the way back to the test and race in Bahrain, that was where we realized that we didn’t have a package that was going to allow us to fight for a World Championship,” Shovlin said. “If we continued on that same development direction, we wouldn’t end up in a position where we felt we could challenge Red Bull.
“It was around that time that we took some decisions on how we develop the car, how the car works aerodynamically, and how we shape the characteristics of the car. In essence, how it is in terms of handling for the drivers to drive.
“What we are going to be bringing to the track in Imola is the first step of that work. This takes quite a long time to develop in the wind tunnel and you can’t just do these things overnight.
“The Imola package are the first steps in that direction. We are hoping to bring other updates later in the year. We do hope that it is quicker, we hope that it’s better in terms of qualifying and race pace. The key thing though is that we are not just looking to bring a lap time update, we are looking to head off in a different development direction. One that we think gives us a better chance in the long term of being able to challenge for race wins and World Championships.”
Team principal Toto Wolff has previously stated the new parts deliver a clear gain in lap time “in the virtual world” but need proving out on track, and Mercedes could be impacted by the wet weather forecast for the upcoming race weekend that has the potential to influence track running.