Mercedes worried three days of testing won’t be enough to identify underlying issues

Michelle Foster
George Russell sat in the Mercedes W14. England, February 2023.

George Russell sat in the Mercedes W14 at its first shakedown run. England, February 2023.

With only three days of pre-season testing available before the opening race in Bahrain, Mike Elliott admits he’s worried that won’t be enough time to “really start seeing” any potential issues.

Last season Mercedes had to contend with a porpoising car, the W13’s bouncing hampering the team’s early-season efforts.

Claiming just a solitary win on their way to a distant third in the Constructors’ Championship, this season Lewis Hamilton and George Russell will line up on the Bahrain grid with Mercedes not holding either of the two titles.

The team’s eight-year reign as Constructors’ champions ended last season while the year before Hamilton lost the Drivers’ title to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

Mercedes’ chances of regaining either, or even both, this season rest on the newly-unveiled W14.

The car was put through its paces at Silverstone on Thursday, a “smooth” shakedown following reports of a few “niggles” during the previous day’s demo run.

The team now has just three days to resolve any other issues that may arise, Wednesday’s said to be related to engine mapping, during the car’s on-track running at the Sakhir circuit next week.

This season Formula 1 is hosting just one three-day test, which runs from February 23-25 in Bahrain.

Mercedes technical director Elliott is concerned that won’t be enough time to delve into the workings of the car.

“We never really got on top of the car balance last year,” he said. “All the normal work we do at the beginning of the season didn’t happen because of the problems we were trying to rectify.

“With only three days of testing this year, that has two big impacts.

“The first is in reliability. If we are not reliable in the test, then we will have very limited mileage to learn. We also won’t be able to measure the car’s absolute reliability too much, because over three days you are not going to get huge amounts of running.

“These cars are now so reliable that you need more mileage than three days to really start seeing some of the issues.

“The second big impact is that we’ve got to use our limited time as efficiently as possible. We’ve got to learn as much as we can, to work out how to get the most performance out of the car and what we can learn to feed into the next developments.” recommends

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He is, however, confident Mercedes are prepared for the season ahead.

“As we develop the car throughout the winter, we test as much as we can on rigs. We do everything we can to make sure that the car is reliable, and that the performance we expect is measured as best as we can,” he added.

“When we arrive at pre-season testing, we want to be as prepared as we can be but there is no substitute for the real thing. It’s running the car around a real, live racetrack that will help us learn.

“Although we go into testing this year as prepared as we have ever been, doing all the work that we need to in three days will still be tough.”