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Mercedes reveal why 2024 upgrades have limited impact

Mercedes has introduced a series of upgrades this season, but their effectiveness is diluted by the W15’s characteristics.

The Miami GP was a fairly unremarkable event for Mercedes, consistent with most of their 2024 campaign. Lewis Hamilton will be relatively satisfied with his performance, putting Red Bull’s Sergio Perez under pressure for most of the final stint. However, considering upgrades were introduced to the W15 in Florida, the team’s pace was underwhelming. Seeing a customer team, McLaren, take victory will only rub salt in the wounds.

For the last few years, mid-season development at Brackley has failed to hit the mark. In 2022 and the early parts of 2023, committing to the wrong ‘zeropod’ philosophy was described as the culprit for their struggles. With that said, such excuses cannot persist in 2024. An entirely new aerodynamic platform has been introduced for this season. In theory, this new philosophy was supposed to be the missing link for James Allison and his technical team.

Regrettably for the German constructor, this has not been the case. Not only are their upgrades failing to generate significant performance, but their baseline is unreliable. The familiar story of “experimenting” with set-up has again reared its head in 2024.

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Mercedes explains the cause of ineffective upgrades

Andrew Shovlin, the team’s head of trackside engineering, has explained why progress at Mercedes has been incremental:

“We’re working very hard on the future races to try and bring developments to them as well,” MotorsportWeek quotes him as saying.

“Did it work as expected? Yes. It looks like it’s delivering the performance that we were hoping from the floor. 

“The issue at the moment is everyone else is developing their cars. You saw McLaren with a big package, and they look to have moved forward.

“Also, the handling issues the drivers are having to battle with are making it hard to see all that performance as a straight step forward…

“The car can behave quite differently from session to session.”

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Rivals surge ahead

These comments touch upon themes that will be very familiar to Mercedes fans. An inconsistent platform has been a regular complaint from both George Russell and Lewis Hamilton in recent years.

Whilst rivals take significant steps forward, the Brackley-based team is failing to keep up. With Ferrari and McLaren now legitimate front-runners, Mercedes have been relegated even further down the order.

Last season’s car, last deemed a failure, still finished second in the Championship. There were also races like Australia or Canada where Hamilton was able to keep Verstappen in his RB19 honest.

Twelve months later, Toto Wolff’s team have only regressed relative to the Austrian team. The upcoming rounds will provide more insight into whether a mid-season resurgence is a realistic objective for the German team.

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