Spa boost for Mercedes as Toto Wolff reveals upgrade plan

Jamie Woodhouse
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, approaches '1' sign. Hungary, July 2023.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, approaches '1' sign after claiming pole. Hungary, July 2023

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff confirmed that the next stage of the W14 upgrade plan arrives at the Belgian Grand Prix as the team look to bounce back from the missed opportunities of Hungary.

Lewis Hamilton had given Mercedes hope of getting off the mark for F1 2023 victories when he pipped Max Verstappen to pole at the Hungarian GP, though that pace did not carry over into race day, at least not at first.

Hamilton would be jumped by Verstappen and both McLaren drivers at the start, dropping back from there, with Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin revealing in the aftermath that the team had got their calculation on cooling wrong and were forced to cool the power unit for much of the race.

Mercedes bringing upgrades to Spa

While Mercedes later got those temperatures back under control and freed Hamilton and George Russell to attack, re-passing McLaren’s Oscar Piastri was the best Hamilton could do as he finished P4, while Russell went from P18 on the grid to a P6 finish.

Mercedes will though look to bounce back at Spa-Francorchamps, the last round before the summer break, as the W14 receieves its latest upgrade boost.

Where that will leave Mercedes in the pecking order the team is unsure, with that ‘best of the rest’ battle behind Red Bull shifting race by race, McLaren having been the fastest of that pack in the most recent Silverstone and Hungary rounds, even if Wolff is confident Mercedes actually had the second-fastest car in Hungary.

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“Hungary was a weekend of highs and lows,” said Wolff. “Our pace was strong on Saturday and Sunday, but we didn’t maximise that across the weekend.

“Lewis produced a brilliant lap to take pole position. However, on Sunday, we were too conservative with some of our decisions and ultimately missed out on a podium. George meanwhile was compromised in qualifying but drove a strong race from P18 to take P6.

“We also encountered cooling limitations across both cars; we likely had the second-fastest car, but we must execute better if we are to deliver our full potential. Nevertheless, we scored good points with both drivers, and consolidated our P2 Championship position.

“We will be aiming to turn those learnings into actions for this weekend. Spa-Francorchamps is a classic venue and a true challenge for both the cars and drivers, especially in the sprint format with such limited practice time on a long and challenging lap.

“We will be bringing updates this weekend as part of our ongoing development programme. We hope this will be another small step forward in improving the W14.

“As we have seen at many races this year though, it is hard to predict where we will be relative to our competitors. Wherever the true pace of our car is here, we want to maximise the outcome in this final race before the summer shutdown.”

Mercedes were able to grow their Constructors’ Championship advantage over nearest challengers Aston Martin after the Hungary round, their buffer now standing at 39 points.

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