Mercedes will have a “pretty large” update in Imola to try and resolve its car problems, but team principal Toto Wolff warns that the team needs to keep expectations in check.
Pre-season optimism quickly dissipated at Mercedes during the opening rounds of the Formula 1 season as it realized it didn’t have a car that it could challenge Red Bull. The team quickly started exploring new development directions that it will start to implement from the next race in Imola onwards, and as anticipation mounts over the upgrade package, Wolff is becoming concerned about Mercedes expecting too much from it.
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“We need to manage our own expectations, because we’re bringing an update package that’s going to consist of new suspension parts, and bodywork and some other things,” Wolff said. “But I have never in my 15 years in Formula 1 seen a silver bullet being introduced, where suddenly you unlock half a second of performance. So I very much doubt that this is going to happen here.
“What I’m looking for is that we take certain variables off the table where we believe we could have introduced something that we don’t understand in the car, and to go more to, let’s say, a stable platform. And then we should see where the baseline is and what we can do from there.
“I think we are chasing downforce, and we’re trying to do the best possible job in terms of the mechanical platform. So what we’re doing is, we’re introducing a new bodywork and we’re introducing a new floor and we’re doing a new front suspension, and that’s pretty large. That’s a pretty large operation, large surgery, and it’s going to be a lot of learning. In the virtual world, it is good lap time.”
Given Imola marks the start of F1’s first triple-header of the season – also featuring Monaco and Barcelona – and Wolff believes it’s a well-timed upgrade as Mercedes will get plenty of opportunities to gather data.
“I think we know what we’re doing to the car,” he said. “Really quickly, we will see whether that correlates with the virtual world. I think it’s good to have three races in a row to understand what’s actually happening, and then it gives us maybe a little bit of a buffer later on to filter that and then take next decisions of what to do in terms of updates.
“But Monaco between the two is something that it’s a single lap issue and a tire that comes into life quickly. None of that we do well… So let’s see where we are in Imola.”