Mercedes say “at least we haven’t heard anything very negative” on updated W14

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Photo Credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

With the team opting to stick with the host of changes to the W14 initially planned for last weeks cancelled Grand Prix at Imola, Friday in Monaco was a day of discovery and learning for both the drivers and trackside personnel. The tight and twisty street circuit may not be the best place to evaluate such a package but with an eye on the future, the Brackley outfit committed themselves to getting some data from the upgrades. Lewis Hamilton finished P6 in Free Practice 2, while teammate George Russell came home P12, both drivers getting laps in on the medium and soft compound tyres.

Team Principal Toto Wolff called it a “solid base to start off” and when asked if the upgrades have brought a big difference to the table replied:

“We need to do our laps and try to understand how the car really functions. At least we haven’t heard anything very negative.”

The Austrian was fairly aloof when asked to comment on tomorrow’s qualifying, saying: “Qualfiying is going to be super tight between the front runners, I think the only one who stood out was Max on the long run.” His tone didn’t imply that he was including his own drivers amongst those front runners just yet.

Photo Credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

George Russell, who managed 32 laps in FP2 made no secret of how aware the team was to be bringing a comprehensive upgrade package to the table at such an unsuitable circuit:

“Monaco is such a unique track so it’s not an ideal place to be evaluating updates, but we knew that coming into the weekend. We’re just trying to focus on improving around this circuit and qualifying is obviously the most important part of the weekend. We generally do better on Sundays and struggle more on Saturday, so we need to try and flip that here.”

And while his boss heard “no negatives”, the young Briton said there were “positive signs” from the afternoon session. Russell would post a fastest time of 1:13.191, while Hamilton who’s fastest lap was 1:12.960 had an “amazing day”. A happier Hamilton than of late, amongst all this talk of a move to the Scuderia said:

“I really enjoyed driving today. I want to say a big, big thank you to everyone back at the factory, because to build and design and develop a car is not an easy thing, and everyone’s put so much time in, so many hours of hard work to have us here today. I’m glad that we were able to keep it on track for them, and I think we got a lot of data. I mean, it’s not the place to ultimately test an upgrade, but the car was generally feeling good.”

Photo Credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

The seven-time world champion appeared to have felt good in the car throughout the day and was hoping he would have finished a little higher up the order:

“Ultimately, it was a bit of a shame we weren’t as close as I’d hoped at the end of the session, but definitely felt the improvements, and I’m grateful for it. We’ve just got to keep chipping away at it and see if we can squeeze any more juice out of the car.”

Hamilton was secretive when it came to what area he had felt the changes to the W14 the most, when asked to comment on where the gains were made he replied:

“I’m not going to say where it would be, but there is, and it’s very clear where the lack of performance is for me. We’ll talk about that in the debrief. We’ll put our heads together and try and figure out how we can do that within what we have.”

Despite clearly feeling more comfortable in the W14 with the new package, the 38-year-old was realistic about his expectations when it came to battling it out for pole on Saturday, saying:

“In this session, we were close to half a second off, I think. Maybe that could have been three-tenths, maybe. But I don’t think we have half a second in the bag. We’ll see. We’ll work on it and see if we can squeeze some more out tonight.”

Mercedes’ director of trackside engineering, Andrew Shovlin seemed reasonably pleased with how Friday finished up in what has been a rare amount of positivity from the Silver Arrows camp this season:

“We’ve had a busy day but ran decent programmes with both cars and managed to cram in plenty of set-up compares along the way. It’s difficult to evaluate the update at this track from a lap-time point of view, but from what we can see it’s all working as expected.

With the updated W14 unlikely to make a dramatic leap ahead this weekend given the nature of how Monaco tends to play out it is interesting to see the team push ahead but commendable all the same but really, we may have to wait until Barcelona to see the true nature of the new and possibly improved W14.