Mercedes working on new components to tackle “underlying balance” problem

Mercedes hope upgrades will cure the balance issues currently afflicting their W15 F1 car.

Lewis Hamilton at the Chinese Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton at the Chinese Grand Prix

Mercedes are hopeful that an upgrade package and further components will cure the “underlying balance” issues the team are facing with their 2024 F1 car.

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have been carrying out set-up experiments in the early stages of this year as Mercedes bid to unlock performance from their inconsistent W15 challenger following an underwhelming start to the season.

Hamilton finished second to Max Verstappen in the Chinese Grand Prix sprint before extreme set-up changes backfired, resulting in him qualifying only 18th and being forced into a difficult recovery drive to ninth in Sunday’s grand prix, three places behind his teammate.

Mercedes have confirmed they will bring upgrades to the next race in Miami and technical director James Allison believes they will help to improve the W15’s main weakness.

“We’ve got upgrade packages coming to the car but also components that we hope will rectify the underlying balance that is causing us difficulty,” Allison said in the team’s post-race video debrief.

“Much as it’s painful to talk in this way after a weekend like this, I just have to remember that there’ll be races in the future when we’ve executed those things, when we’re back more on the front foot and when we’re progressing, where the pleasure of talking about it will be massive, and that day can’t come soon enough.”

Expanding on the current problems Mercedes are facing, Allison added: “We’ve had something of a front-limited car all year, especially in the lower-speed corners, and that was really amped up to 11 this weekend.

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W15 sends sparks flying. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 5, Chinese Grand Prix,
George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W15 sends sparks flying. Formula 1…

“Once you’ve got front tyres that don’t want to go around the corner, that means the drivers have to wait an eon to get on the power on the exit of the corner, you haemorrhage lap time there.

“In extremis, actually to make the car go around the corner, they have to boot it around the corner with the throttle to loosen up the rear end somewhat, and that kills the rear tyres so you end up overheating on the rear as a result of being front-limited.

“It’s no pleasure at all to be taken from a weekend which, even though competently executed and well driven by both guys – no pleasure at all when the hardware itself is not where it needs to be or should be.

“Of course, the challenge that we face in the coming races is to try and move both the set-up of the car and also the pieces that we bring to the car so that that’s improved.”

With another sprint weekend coming up in Miami, Allison stressed Mercedes are keen to avoid a repeat of the mistakes made in China.

“We definitely learnt during this weekend that if you're going to be ambitious, be ambitious in the sprint race and then tune it down for the main race rather than the opposite way around,” he said.

“Hopefully we'll land a car in a better place, that the upgrades that we're going to bring to Miami serve us well in a grid that in qualifying at least is really close.

“Around the part of the battle we're fighting, a few hundredths can make a difference sometimes and a couple of tenths would make all the difference in the world. So, looking forward to seeing how that all plays out.”

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