From problems to pace: The biggest Mercedes mindset change of the season

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton climbs into his W14. Canada June 2023

Mercedes were not always the slick machine they are these days.

Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin has revealed the team’s biggest mindset change in recent weeks, going from tackling problems to finding pace.

In the midst of a season in which Mercedes are not where they want to be, but are still P2 in the Constructors’ Championship, the Brackley squad has by their own admission suffered a season of ups and downs.

That was evident last time out in Hungary where Lewis Hamilton nabbed pole position, the team’s first of the season, by 0.003s ahead of Max Verstappen only to finish down in fourth place, almost 40s adrift of the race winner.

Mercedes more focused on lap time than problems for 2024

Worryingly for Mercedes, Sundays have been their stronger moment over race weekends this season.

But with George Russell racing from 18th on the grid in Hungary to sixth at the chequered flag, that points more towards Mercedes lacking pace compared to the leading team, or teams it was on Sunday teams with McLaren having yet another strong race, than it does a fundamental problem with the car.

As such Shovlin concedes the focus is now on performance rather than problems, especially as the team switches its focus on to the 2024 W15.

“It is fair to say that with these regulations and the way the cars work, we have been very focused on fixing problems,” Shovlin said in the latest team video debrief.

“It might be bouncing or a balance issue that you are trying to solve. But as we are making progress on that, the actual way that you develop a car is you are more looking for just performance. So you get less focused on a big list of things that you need to solve, and more just on where we can bring the lap time.

“The focus for next year’s car is that we make sure the key decisions give us a lot of scope for development. You can see this year just how much performance all the teams are bringing as they go through the year, and you need to be able to bring that performance.

“But as I said, we are a little bit less focused on solving this list of issues and just looking at how can we make a good step in lap time, and hopefully a step that is going to get us back to regular pole positions and being able to challenge for wins.”

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11 races into this season, Mercedes have yet to interrupt Red Bull’s winning run with the Milton Keynes squad claiming 11 on the trot to race out to a 229-point lead in the Constructors’ Championship. Hamilton is P4 in the Drivers’ standings with Russell P5.

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