Mercedes have given more information behind when the planning process began for their first significant upgrade package of the season, which is due at Imola next weekend.
The Silver Arrows have begun the 2023 campaign on the back foot by their standards after initially looking to get themselves back in the World Championship picture this year, after a 2022 season spent largely fighting against a porpoising W13.
They were given hope for what this year might bring by ending the season strongly, with a one-two finish at Interlagos spearheaded by George Russell bringing Mercedes their sole win of 2022.
But with Red Bull having hit such dominant form this time around, Mercedes, along with the rest of the field, are in the position of playing catch-up, and team principal Toto Wolff ordered significant changes to be made to the W14 early in the season.
Trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin has now revealed that the team knew as early as the Bahrain testing period that they would not be able to put themselves in title contention this season, and the upgrades they have been working on for next weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix have been in the works for several months.
Wolff has been keen to stress that he has never seen a “magic bullet” in terms of finding a significant portion of lap time with one upgrade package, but Shovlin explained that what will be on show for Mercedes at Imola is merely the beginning of what will be a “different development direction” for the team.
“Well, if we go all the way back to Bahrain test [and the] Bahrain race, that was where we realised that we didn’t have a package that was going to allow us to fight for a World Championship,” Shovlin said in Mercedes’ post-Miami debrief video.
“And if we continued on that same development direction, we wouldn’t end up in a position where we felt we could challenge Red Bull.
“So it was around that time that we took some decisions on how we develop the car, how the car works aerodynamically, how we shape the characteristics of the car, so how it is in terms of handling.
“What we are going to be bringing to the track at Imola is the first step really of that work. This takes quite a long time to develop in the wind tunnel – you can’t just do these things overnight, but the Imola package are the first steps in that direction.
“Now, we’re hoping to bring other updates later in the year. We do hope that it’s quicker, we hope it’s better in terms of qualifying and race pace.
“But as I said, the key thing is we’re not just looking to bring a lap time update. We’re 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.”