Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have been promised upgrades to their W14, which were due at the F1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix until it was cancelled.

Instead, Mercedes will debut their new parts at next weekend’s F1 Monaco Grand Prix.

Why are Mercedes going backwards in F1 2023?

Duncan Elliot, their head of composite design, said: “It’s fair to say the car is constantly evolving.

“In addition to the underlying development rate of the car there are also event-specific developments that we target, such as the low downforce rear wing for events such as Spa.

“It’s fair to say that the development direction can also change, to try to ensure that we always achieve maximum performance.

“We work closely with the aero group to optimise the solution ahead of the final release. 

“We then work closely with manufacturing to ensure we achieve the best quality components.

“The biggest challenge is always time! The quicker you can go from the tunnel to the track and positively impact the race weekend, the better.”

Claire Simpson, aerodynamics group leader, added: “We would do a mixture of testing, so we’d run simulations to try and understand if we can manipulate the flow field in the way that we want to.

“Then if something was to be successful from that test, we would then take it into a wind tunnel test and try and understand if it’s improved the aerodynamic performance or not.”

Riccardo Musconi, Mercedes’ head of trackside performance, said: “It’s all about striking the right balance between learning about the new upgrade and maximising the performance of that specific race weekend.

“The driver feedback is pivotal when we’re bringing a new upgrade and knowing if it performs as intended. 

“The drivers are really good at picking up specific events around the lap and pinpoint them to the engineers.

“We gather after the debrief and look at those specific examples and find out exactly what was going on at that time, and if the upgrade is doing what we were intended to do.”

Hamilton and Russell do not expect to be instantly challenging the Red Bulls, who have won all five grands prix in 2023 so far.

But the upgrades brought to Monte Carlo represent the next major step in Mercedes’ plan to recover after a nightmare year.

The subplot of Hamilton’s ongoing contract negotiations also lurks in the background as they frantically seek to improve their car.