Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin has revealed the team’s new front wing at the British Grand Prix has been introduced with the partial aim of making the W14 car better suited to Lewis Hamilton’s driving style.
That is despite the recent struggles of Hamilton’s younger team-mate George Russell.
Russell seemed better equipped to handle the zero-pod version of the car at the start of the 2023 season, outqualifying Hamilton at all but one of the opening five races.
Mercedes aiming to please Lewis Hamilton with Silverstone upgrade
Since Mercedes introduced a major upgrade package in Monaco, however, the tables have turned dramatically with Hamilton starting ahead of Russell at each of the last four rounds and claiming consecutive podiums in Spain and Canada.
Despite crashing during the race in Montreal, Russell played down the extent of his recent struggles in Austria last weekend by claiming Hamilton “is still struggling a lot with the car” too despite his upturn in results.
That statement came after Hamilton had qualified 18th out of 20 cars in the sprint shootout at the Red Bull Ring, with the seven-time World Champion voicing his frustration over team radio the following day as he struggled to keep the car within the confines of the circuit and incurred multiple penalties for exceeding track limits.
Mercedes have introduced a new front wing at Silverstone with the aim of reducing the gap to the dominant Red Bull team, winners of the first nine races of 2023, with Shovlin revealing the team hope to make Hamilton more comfortable.
After the opening practice session for the British GP, he told Sky Sports F1: “When we made changes to the car in Monaco, it got a bit pointy and the front end is quite direct. And it’s a fine line between that being helpful to your driving style and it being a bit of a hindrance.
“Now with races like the sprint race, you’ve got no time to play with setup so there’s some items we brought here to try and adapt the car a bit more towards Lewis’s style, but he’s very pragmatic.
“He’s taking a long-term view on this and he’s very focused on what is it I need to look at to test to try and find the improvements.
“We’ll chip away at that here but he’s pretty calm in terms of helping us develop the car the way that we need to, and in the background working on his own understanding of how to adapt the setup to his style.”
With his Mercedes contract extension yet to be signed, Hamilton, 38, shocked a packed Silverstone audience on Thursday by revealing he could remain in F1 for “at least” another five years having arrived on the grid at the age of 22 in 2007.
Although he is still without a win since the penultimate round of the 2021 season, Shovlin says Hamilton remains a key figure within the Mercedes team.
“Quite a long time, isn’t it?” he said of Hamilton’s timeframe. “But he’s doing really well, he’s very committed.
“We know what Lewis can do, and particularly when we give him the right car and he’s just been an integral part of this team’s success over the years. We all enjoy working with him and the longer he can keep it going, the better.”