Mercedes ‘still lost’ with pundit placing team ‘not in a good spot still’ despite upgrades

Henry Valantine
Lewis Hamilton behind the wheel of the Mercedes W15 at the 2024 Miami Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton behind the wheel of the Mercedes W15 at the 2024 Miami Grand Prix

F1 commentator Harry Benjamin believes Mercedes are “still lost” with the direction of their car, though they are looking to rectify that with further upgrades to the W15 at Imola this weekend.

Benjamin, who usually is behind the microphone during races on BBC Radio 5 Live, will be standing in for David Croft on Sky Sports F1 as the channel’s lead commentator takes the first of three planned races off this season.

Mercedes ‘not in a good spot still’ despite early W15 upgrades

Toto Wolff confirmed ahead of the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix that further improvements are going to be made to the W15 this weekend, after initial upgrades were brought to the car in Miami.

He warned that it will take time for their changes to “bear fruit” however, but did say they have now found a “clear path forward” with the direction they want to take with the car.

But already with a significant gap to their rivals in front of them in the Constructors’ standings, Formula 1 commentator Benjamin believes they still seem “lost” with where exactly they want to go.

“I think Mercedes are in a not in a good spot still,” Benjamin told the Sky Sports F1 podcast, in the days leading up to his lead commentary debut with the channel.

“They brought upgrades in Miami. They said themselves, I spoke to some of the team, they chucked a big wing on there, which they knew would put them down on straight line speed, and especially that long back straight in Miami, you’re going to suffer.

“But considering all that, it was probably one of [Lewis Hamilton’s] best weekends so far of the year just in terms of scrapping and [scoring] a decent points result.

“But this is where Mercedes are at the moment, in the lower points of the top 10. And I don’t know about you, but I just get the sense that they are still lost.

“Yes, they can bring more upgrades, but it just feels like at one point, you’re slamming your head against a brick wall.”

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Fellow panellist, former Formula 1 driver Karun Chandhok, explained that Mercedes are still searching for the right balance from their car at race weekends – which he does not believe should be the case with teams that have their car setups correct from earlier work.

In that regard, he believes rivals McLaren have had a “huge confidence boost” in being able to bed in their significant upgrade in Miami in a shortened window while Mercedes are still tweaking their car.

“They sort of seem to be still looking for that silver bullet, and they’re still talking about experimenting with setups, experimenting with the car,” he said.

“And really, if you know your baseline, you shouldn’t have to experiment at the race weekends.

“You should be able to arrive with a setup, and then just go plus or minus a little bit in terms of tweaking, a bit of mechanical balance, a bit of roll balance, a bit of aero balance and weight distribution and just get it all within a window.

“You should be able to hit FP1 within a window and then you’re just tweaking, really, to cater for track evolution and the tyres on track temperature, which is where I believe McLaren are now.

“I think the fact that they were able to bring an upgrade, and a significant upgrade to Miami, knowing that they only had one practice session to dial the car in – got it dialled in – it worked well in the Sprint quali, and Sprint race and eventually the Grand Prix, that is a huge, huge confidence boost in the engineering team.

“And I fully agree with Harry, I don’t believe that Mercedes have that clear thought process and understanding of: ‘This is where we are with the car.’”

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