Mercedes have insisted their new front wing remained in the Austin garage only due to a shortage of parts – but will be seen on track in Mexico.
Part of an upgrade package for the W13 at the United States Grand Prix was a front wing that could be seen from the pit lane among the Mercedes inventory, and which caught the eye of broadcasters and rival teams alike.
There were certain elements of the design that appeared questionable in terms of legality and in the end the new front wing was not used at the Circuit of The Americas – with team boss Toto Wolff admitting there had been “an exchange with the FIA”.
Wolff added: “Maybe we need to tweak a little bit here and there, but it’s not yet decided.”
The remainder of the upgrade package worked well as Lewis Hamilton went close to winning at COTA, only passed late on for the victory by Max Verstappen who was recovering from a botched Red Bull pit-stop.
In Mercedes’ usual post-race public debrief, trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin responded to a question asking if the new front wing will be used at the Mexican Grand Prix – and made no reference to its legality.
“The reason we didn’t run it in Austin was because we only had one of those parts, so if we had damaged it during qualifying it would have meant the car that damaged the wing had to start from the back,” said Shovlin.
“Also, with a very busy programme – we had the tyre test in FP2 – we didn’t actually have the time to evaluate.
“We have more of those parts available in Mexico. We will run that on Friday, we will check if it’s all working as expected and the plan at this stage is to race that wing.”
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Shovlin was asked whether the upgrades that did make it out onto the Austin track had given the W13 a touch of extra pace.
“It’s always quite difficult to look at a single event and work out how much you have moved forward because the performance bounces around track to track,” he said.
“But we can measure the load the updates are providing and that all looked to be very much in line with expectation.
“It was quite a difficult weekend to balance the car. It was very windy, the wind was behind the car through the Esses which could make it quite oversteery, and the balance wasn’t quite as good as we had at some of the other circuits.
“But overall, the pace did look like it was a step in the right direction and certainly in qualifying it was much easier to get a good gap to cars like the Alpine and the McLaren, although the gap to Ferrari and Red Bull was still there and we need to work to get that smaller.”