On the podium, pre-disqualification, in the Sprint and Grand Prix in Austin, Toto Wolff simply said Mercedes’ final update of the season “directionally functioned”.
Mercedes arrived at the Circuit of The Americas with a new floor for the W14, their last significant upgrade for this year’s championship.
The team’s technical director James Allison explained that although they hoped it would give them “a bit of lap time” from the onset, it is mostly a “bellwether” for whether they’re on the right track with their all-new 2024 concept.
Toto Wolff: The update directionally functioned
It’s fair to say the weekend’s results, at least on Lewis Hamilton’s side of the garage, were encouraging.
The Briton qualified third for the Sprint and the Grand Prix, just 0.069s off Max Verstappen in the Sprint Shootout, and brought his car across the line in second place in both events.
He, however, would later lose his runner-up result from the Grand Prix after his W14 failed a post-race floor and plank inspection.
His team-mate George Russell didn’t have as successful a time in Austin as he was only eighth in the Sprint and promoted to P5 in the Grand Prix with the Briton calling it a “scrappy” performance.
It begs the question was Hamilton’s pace the result of the upgrade or his own prowess around the Circuit of The Americas?
Wolff says both played a role.
“Lewis is always strong in Austin and when he’s on a roll he is unstoppable,” said the Mercedes motorsport boss.
“The update directionally functioned. I think from the get-go Lewis said that he feels that in the rear-end, George never got to that point so we need to analyse why that is.
“It’s a factor of all of them. Everything plays a role.”
Importantly for Mercedes, the Austrian says the update gave them a better understanding of whether or not they are heading in the right direction.
“It was directionally an interesting experiment whether it will work,” he said. “It gives us more indications of whether we are on the right path for next year.”
He was, however, a bit more enthusiastic about the new floor to Sky Sports, telling the broadcaster: “The upgrade is working, I think it’s a superb step which was the direction that we were hoping would actually make it stick more and it does.
“Directionally, I think it’s a very good sign.”
That, though, did take away from the pain of having lost the race by a mere 2.225 seconds.
“We need to take the positives, I hate losing races and the whole team is in pain,” said Wolff.
“But this is a circuit where a few races ago we wouldn’t have performed because it’s those fast sweeping corners where we were miserable in Suzuka.
“We were well here now we’re going to a few tracks that should make the car happier.
“I think the trajectory is right. We have two more weekends to go now so we can be quick to make it better.”
Such was Hamilton’s performance at the Circuit of The Americas, Timo Glock believes the Brackley squad will be “on a par” with Red Bull at the start of next year’s championship.