After Imola’s cancellation, Mercedes remain committed to their upgrade plans with the team set to bring the new parts they would’ve raced at Imola to the next race at Monaco.
A lot of the talk in the build-up to the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix weekend was about Mercedes’ upgrades and whether or not the team would introduce a B-spec car.
Even Red Bull team boss Christian Horner weighed in on it, saying “if you believe Mercedes, they have a completely new car coming.”
But while Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff confirmed their Imola upgrades would “consist of new suspension parts, bodywork and some other things”, the Austrian did not say if the zero-pods had run their last race.
Even though Imola has been cancelled, Miami will still be the old-spec car’s final grand prix as Mercedes are reportedly pushing on their plans to run the full upgrade package at Monaco.
Although the street circuit is not an ideal location for testing new parts given its layout and propensity for accidents, Mercedes are standing firm as they believe it will be a notable step forward.
Duncan Elliot, the Brackley squad’s head of composite design, says time is of the essence.
“It’s fair to say the car is constantly evolving,” he said in a video on Mercedes’ official YouTube channel.
“In addition to the underlying development rate of the car there are also events specific developments that we target such as the low downforce rear wing for events such as Spa.
“It’s fair to say that the development direction can also change and try to ensure that we always achieve maximum performance.
“We work closely with the aero group to optimise the solution ahead of the final release. We then work closely with manufacturing to ensure we achieve the best quality components.
“The biggest challenge is always time, the quicker you can go from the tunnel to the track and positively impact the race weekend, the better.”
Mercedes’ insistence on bringing the new parts to Monaco bodes well for Lewis Hamilton and George Russell as it hints at positives results from the wind tunnel tests.
Working on the airflow around the car, Claire Simpson, aerodynamics group leader, said that’s always the first part in any aerodynamic upgrade.
“The second part,” she continued, “of it is then to come up with different ways of trying to target that with the geometry and within the regulations that we have.
“And then we would do a mixture of testing – so we’d run simulations to try and understand if we can manipulate the flow field in the way that we want to.
“Then if something was to be successful from that test, we would then take it into a wind tunnel test and try and understand if it’s improved the aerodynamic performance or not.”
Ricciardo Musconi, the team’s head of trackside performance, added: “It’s all about striking the right balance between learning about the new upgrade and maximising the performance of that specific race weekend.
“We need to know exactly what the expectations are in terms of car balance. We need to see if we can match those expectations if they are translated into the behaviour on track.
“The driver feedback is pivotal when we’re bringing a new upgrade and knowing if it performs as intended. The drivers are really good at picking up specific events around the lap and pinpoint them to the engineers.
“We gather after the debrief and look at those specific examples and find out exactly what was going on at that time, and if the upgrade is doing what we were intended to do.”