The W15 breakthrough Mercedes believe they made in Japan

Mercedes say they made some progress with their W15 F1 car in Japan.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W15. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 4, Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka, Japan,
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W15. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd…

Mercedes believe they now understand how to get the most out of their troubled W15 F1 car after the Japanese Grand Prix.

The eight-time constructors’ world champions have endured another disappointing start to the season, with their 2024 F1 challenger proving inconsistent despite a concept change over the winter.

Mercedes made an encouraging start to the weekend at Suzuka but ultimately suffered their worst result in over a decade as George Russell finished seventh, two places ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton.

However, Mercedes think they have made a breakthrough by finding a “more stable platform” with the W15.

“The big program we were looking at was to try and get the car a bit more predictable through the weekend,” Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said in the team’s latest debrief video.

“What we found is that we can get it in a window but if the wind changes the track temp changes it quickly falls out of it and that was leading to poor performance in race and qualifying.

“Now there’s no doubt that we’re not where we need to be at the moment, we know that and we know that we’ve got work to do. But certainly working with the car across the weekend was easier, the balance of the car was more consistent.

“There are issues that we need to get on top of and get on top of quickly. But certainly, we seem to have a more stable platform, one where its behaviour through the whole weekend is more consistent but as I said we know that there’s work to do and we’ll be working on that immediately.”

Mercedes initially attempted a one-stop race following an early red flag by switching onto Hard tyres, but abandoned the gamble following a poor opening stint.

“We stayed out a bit longer on that second stint to build a bit of a gap. We may have benefited from a Safety Car but there wasn’t one. But you don’t want to stay out so long that you can’t then catch up,” Shovlin explained.

“We’ve done the analysis on the tyre curves now and the hard and the medium don’t look very different. It was certainly cooler at the end of the race which may have been helping. But the second stint and the third stint were okay.

“So, we know that we’re not quick enough, we know that there’s a good-sized gap to Red Bull that we need to close down and there’s a bit of a gap to Norris, to the Ferraris that we need to work on. But certainly, the performance of the car was where we expected it to be, in stint two and stint three.”

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