Mercedes are aiming to bounce back from a disappointing 2023 Austrian Grand Prix at Silverstone and have brought a new front wing as part of two planned upgrades before the summer break.
The 2022 British Grand Prix was arguably the closest Lewis Hamilton‘s come to a race victory since 2021, and 12 months on, Mercedes retain belief that they can beat Red Bull in 2023.
“I maintain the belief because, if I were to say I don’t maintain the belief, then we may as well turn it off and put everything into next year’s car, and be happy to finish in the top 10,” Toto Wolff told the media after Austria.
“But you can’t. You just have to continue working. We need to take these bad days as good as possible, and try to rebound and come closer.
“We’ve seen races where we were decent, and I think the gap to Verstappen was 10 seconds in Montreal, which looks much more encouraging than it was.”
The 2023 Austrian GP was the first time Mercedes missed the podium since the end of May, proving the battle for second place in the constructors’ championship remains hotly contested.
However, that may be to the detriment of Mercedes, Ferrari and Aston Martin as Red Bull can focus on their 2024 car sooner as they remain on track to wrap up both 2023 championships with ease.
Mercedes are also looking to reinvent their car after they abandoned the innovative, but ultimately ineffective, ‘zero-sidepods’ concepts before the first race of 2023 had even got underway.
The team were badly sideswiped by porpoising in 2022 but recovered to win the Sao Paulo GP and entered 2023 with title aspirations.
Both times, their modelling and simulations vastly overestimated car performance, but after the Canadian GP, Wolff said he thought the team had solved its Achilles heel.
After the success of Mercedes‘ Monaco upgrade, this new front wing will be the next test of whether Wolff’s faith is well-founded.
Wolff: Midfield battle changing constantly
While Ferrari and Aston Martin appeared to have the upper hand in the battle behind Red Bull at the season-opening Bahrain GP, Mercedes surged back and looked the team to beat until Aston Martin pegged their advantage to just three points in Austria
However, Lando Norris was the real surprise package at the Red Bull Ring in his newly-upgraded McLaren. Oscar Piastri is also expected to have those upgrades at Silverstone.
The Brit qualified and finished the grand prix in fourth, and went one better in the sprint shootout.
“I think what we’re seeing is that the constant is Max in front and then it is between his team-mate, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Lando with the upgrade and us,” Wolff added in Austria.
“It seems to be changing from race-to-race, and there’s not quite a pattern that we can discover so far.
“What I hear is that Ferrari and McLaren had an upgrade, and that could be one of the explanations. But we’re bringing one next week.”