Mercedes is quietly confident as it heads to Silverstone – a circuit which is, on paper, better suited to the W13 than the three circuits visited since the Spanish GP.
The brand’s CEO and team principal Toto Wolff is hopeful that the team can build on the work they have done so far this season in understanding the fairly non-compliant and sensitive W13 concept, which has so far prevented the outfit from winning a single race this season.
Silverstone is easily a lot closer in form on first appearance to the Barcelona circuit in which Mercedes had what was easily their most promising weekend of the year. A major floor upgrade seemed to eradicate porpoising for good, especially from the straights, which enabled George Russell to showcase a mighty defence against the Red Bulls and Lewis Hamilton to fight back to P5 from the back of the field at the end of Lap 1.
Hamilton was the fastest driver on track at times during that race, but the team has since struggled with poor ride quality at the Monaco and Azerbaijan street tracks. The Canadian GP weekend started out looking like a repeat of the team’s set-up window struggles, but turned around when the rain came on Saturday and when the conditions seemed to pay into the favour of the set-up.
“One thing you can be sure of is we will push as hard as we can,” says Mercedes’ technical director Mike Elliott on the upcoming British GP weekend. “We will be bringing new bits to Silverstone, we will be trying to push the car forward, trying to get some pace from the car we’ve got or from the package we’ve got – as well as the new bits we are going to add to it.
“I think at the same time though we have to be honest with ourselves and say that at the moment we are just a little bit behind those front runners in Ferrari and Red Bull. And in a normal race I think it is going to be tough. I think Silverstone will be a circuit that suits us a little bit better, like Barcelona did, but maybe it will be just a little bit difficult.
“Whatever happens we will push as hard as we can. Our drivers will push as hard as we can because we want to get back to winning. We want to win for the team, we definitely want to win and we want to win for you, the fans, so let’s see what happens,” summed up Mercedes chief.
Wolff made efforts to be less jubilant post-race, erring on the side of caution, and explained the team’s shifting fortunes throughout the weekend in Montreal as he looks ahead to the mountain of work the team need to overcome.
“One swallow doesn’t make a summer,” Wolff said. “We saw that swallow in Barcelona, but somehow it flew somewhere else. So I think we need to be careful. We were off the pace on Friday. In the wet we were good, I think that was respectable. And I think that [in the race in Canada] at times we were with the quickest cars.
“In the second stint Lewis and George were almost matching the front runners. They were not quite but on some laps, yes, and that is very encouraging to see. But we just need to be careful, there’s so much work we need to do in order to be back at the front, and we are not yet there,” summed up Mercedes F1 boss.
Silverstone is a smooth, fast and flowing circuit with long straights and sections where drivers will remain on full throttle. On the surface, long periods on throttle would be the precursor to the dreaded return of porpoising, yet the bouncing Mercedes are now experiencing is simply mechanical bouncing.
The lack of real bumps and ridges in the Silverstone tarmac, combined with the high-speed the cars drive over the surface, should boost the team’s hopes of avoiding getting bogged down by having to alleviate severe bouncing. Wolff believes they should continue to “grind away” whilst managing “expectations” in order to maximise the prospective result from Silverstone with a relatively compromised set-up package.
“I would hope so,” he states. “Silverstone was good to us in the past and the circuit is smoother than the last three ones but it’s not Barcelona. So now we should manage our own expectations and just really grind away, look at the data and come up with some sensible solutions, not only for Silverstone but going forward as well.”
“We just need to put more load in the car, more downforce and equally do that with a car that is not as low on the ground as we expected. It’s a clear direction, you can see the cars going higher. And this is where we need to find the performance.”
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