Mercedes brought significant upgrades to the Monaco Grand Prix and while the track isn’t an ideal location to test these upgrades, there were still things to learn. It seems that the upgrades have been effective, though they aren’t the huge jump ahead that some fans might have wanted. Importantly, there is no “silver bullet” solution and these upgrades suggest that at the very least, the team is going ahead in the right direction.
The previous zero-sidepod concept was a developmental dead-end so the new direction W14 is less about short-term performance gains as it is about developing a new platform in which to improve. Monaco showed that at the very least, these upgrades are not a step backwards. The pace was solid as Mercedes were able to score decent times and maintain a strong position within the top 10, finishing ahead of Ferrari in P4 and P5. Things aren’t perfect though as Lewis Hamilton described the handling as “very stiff.”
From the perspective of team principal, Toto Wolff, has stated that the W14 has gone from “awful” to “not good” – an arguable improvement.
“On a positive note,” said Wolff, “maybe encouraging because we’ve never been good here [in Monaco]. We have been three tenths behind pole. Last year was six tenths [sic]. The car was awful last year and this time the drivers said it’s not good.
“So, there’s a step in [the right] direction. But we really need to be careful.”
Lewis Hamilton told SkyF1 that he’s quite happy with the new direction the team have found but acknowledged that there’s still plenty of work to do.
“I’m really happy,” said Hamilton. “We moved forwards and, coming into the weekend, I didn’t know where we would stand. So to come out fourth and fifth, it was really good points for the team. It’s a huge thank you to everyone back at the factory for pushing and bringing those upgrades.
Both Mercedes members agree that they won’t know the W14’s true potential until Barcelona next week as Wolff said they need to “collect more data” to ensure their “new baseline” continues to be effective. Hamilton agrees saying that “Barcelona is the best test bench circuit for us.”
There are a lot of unknown elements of the car with Wolff noting that in Monaco, “The more the track grips in, the less performant we are. It’s really a lot of learning at the moment because everything is new.”
Tentatively, Mercedes have made improvements and at the very least, this is a step sideways and not backwards. We will not truly see the W14’s potential until Barcelona next week.