Mercedes explain why only Lewis Hamilton used upgraded W14 element at Belgian GP

Jamie Woodhouse
Lewis Hamilton drives upgraded Mercedes W14. Belgium, July 2023.

Lewis Hamilton drives the upgraded Mercedes W14 at Spa-Francorchamps. Belgium, July 2023.

George Russell never switched to the new Mercedes rear wing which Lewis Hamilton used in Belgium, the team explaining that Russell initially preferred the original, and then the weather made its mark.

Mercedes introduced their latest upgrade package for the W14 at Spa-Francorchamps, which as well as revised sidepods and a new floor, also featured a new low-drag rear wing.

But, with Russell’s W14 sporting the old version when displayed for the media in the pit lane, the expected change to fit it with the rear wing which Hamilton was running never came.

George Russell more comfortable with old Mercedes rear wing

Mercedes chief technical officer Mike Elliott then was asked during the team’s post-Belgian GP debrief video why Russell did not take that rear wing?

As it turns out, Russell made the choice to start the race weekend with the old version, but with a rain-soaked FP1 starting a weather trend which lasted until race day, at which point mostly drier conditions arrived, Russell decided to stick with that version considering the limited dry-running.

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“Like every race weekend we go in by doing an amount of work in the simulator,” Elliott began. “An amount of work to try and get the general balance requirements of the car right, work out what downforce level we want to run, work out where we are going to place our mechanical balance, our aero balance, just to get ourselves roughly in the right window.

“So the two drivers did that programme before the Spa race weekend, in George’s case he felt that the bigger rear-wing gave him some options. He preferred the balance of the car driving with that, so he elected to start the race weekend with that.

“And normally what happens is the two drivers come together over the race weekend, but obviously this weekend was pretty wet, there was no dry running and both of them quite liked the car they got so elected to stay where they were.”

A communication mix-up on sprint day saw Russell hamper Hamilton’s SQ3 efforts as Hamilton went on to score a P7 finish, one place up the road from Russell, with Grand Prix Sunday at Spa yielding a P4 for Hamilton and P6 for Russell.

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