Lewis Hamilton believes Mercedes’ updates for Baku sets the team off down a “new path” for the W14’s development.
Mercedes have brought along their first development package for the W14 for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, with the upgrades set to be fitted to the car as the Brackley-based team try to close the gap to the leading Red Bull team.
It’s been a week of activity in the Mercedes camp, following the shake-up of their technical department which has seen former technical director James Allison return to the role after two years as chief technical officer, while his successor Mike Elliott has now succeeded him in the CTO role.
While Mercedes aren’t expecting the upgrade package to make a night-and-day performance change, Lewis Hamilton believes the new parts are sending the team down a completely new path for future development.
“I think it will be an upgrade naturally but I think it will be the start of a new path for us,” Hamilton said in the drivers’ press conference on Thursday, when asked about whether the updates bring the car in line with where it should have been at the start of the season or if they are still behind where they ideally should have been.
“It will be, at the core, still the same car but part of the path to getting to where we want to be, so we’re not going to hit the ground and be where we wanted to be at the start of the season.
“We’re not making up that crazy ground that there is to, but I think it’s really positive that so much great work has been done back in the factory. It takes time to progress in the right direction. So I’m excited for it.”
George Russell eyeing up Ferrari as key rival this weekend
George Russell also weighed in on the Mercedes upgrades, saying the changes aren’t going to catapult the W14 ahead of rivals such as Aston Martin and Ferrari.
“We’ve got a few new bits, just part of the standard development process throughout the year, but nothing that will transform it this weekend,” he said, “but we’ll see.”
Russell then earmarked Ferrari as being the team to watch on the streets of Baku, believing the Italian team’s cars will fare well on the soft compound tyres around the Azerbaijan capital.
“It’s been tight with Ferrari and Aston Martin the last two races,” he said.
“Ferrari have historically been pretty quick here, they’re always quick on the C5 tyre compound circuits. So here, in Monaco and Singapore, they’re pretty competitive. They normally have a bit of a trick up their sleeve when it comes to that soft tyre.
“So they might be a little bit more competitive than we’ve seen in recent races, but the race and points are scored on Saturday and Sunday now so let’s see.”