Mercedes expects the Las Vegas Grand Prix to be “a completely new ball game” that requires more preparation work than any other race.
The new race in Vegas takes place on a brand new circuit at nighttime, with temperatures expected to be drop as low as into the 40s for some of the track sessions. Mercedes’ head of trackside performance Riccardo Musconi says the combination of venue, tire compound choice and weather conditions makes it a race with a number of questions marks for teams to have to deal with.
“It’s a completely new ball game,” Musconi said. “We have tried to gather as much information, as I am sure every other team has tried to. We have models of the track in the simulator, we have gathered other information and pictures of the tarmac and so on. The weather is going to play a big part too. It is quite cold at this time of the year in Vegas, especially the sessions happening around midnight.
“We will have the softest selection of tires in Vegas. That is adding an extra dimension to the problem. The truth is, every team to some degree will venture into the unknown because we don’t have any previous data. The preparation work we are conducting at the factory will have to cover different dimensions, different aspects of it, and more than we usually do for other tracks.
For Mercedes, Vegas comes off the back of a weekend in Brazil where the team was left perplexed by its lack of performance. Musconi said there are multiple areas where Mercedes is trying to understand where it went wrong.
“First of all, we were faced again with an enigma of tires,” he said. “We can see them switching on and off within a few degrees, so it’s very, very difficult to be on top of them.
“The second thing was the degradation. We were not at the best end of it as we normally are, so that’s a new thing for us to explore and understand.
“The third thing was that we were perhaps too conservative with the ride heights after Austin. Possibly, and part of the answer may be there. But we don’t think that explains the full picture as we saw it unfolding at the weekend.”