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Mercedes will need “several races” to make bigger steps with 2024 F1 car

Mercedes has struggled for performance against the likes of Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren with a W15 car that both lacks downforce and has some undesirable handling characteristics baked into it.

That meant the Mercedes has been tough to set up and exploit to its full potential, with the various track conditions and temperatures across the first six race weekends all causing different types of headaches for Lewis Hamilton and George Russell as their cars dipped in and out of their optimal operating windows.

After bringing forward a floor upgrade to Miami, the rest of Mercedes’ first proper upgrade package of 2024 will be introduced for this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola. But team principal Wolff cautioned it would take “several races” for the full suite of performance-altering upgrades to hit the track.

“The first six races have not been straightforward, but we have built a clear understanding of where we need to improve and shaped a clear path forward to tackle that,” Wolff said.

“It will be several races before we see this bear fruit, but everyone is working hard to bring them as soon as is possible.

“In the meantime, we will be looking to maximise the package we have. We are bringing some more updates to Imola and hopefully they push us in the right direction.”

While its performance issues across circuits like Jeddah, Melbourne and Suzuka were all of a different nature, Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin says it has picked out the underlying trends that have given it a direction of what needs to change.

“I think we’ve got a reasonable handle on where it is we need to be pushing development now,” Shovlin said.

“It’s not like we had the same problem at every track. At Jeddah, we had a lot of bouncing in the high speed and the car was very difficult in the fast corners and we weren’t quick enough. We were fixing that.

“And then Melbourne we had an issue where the rear tyres were just degrading too rapidly. I think we got on top of that for Suzuka but you can only fix the problems one at a time.

“But there’s a thread of work that is going on at the moment, along with the fact that we’ve just got to bring performance.

“Over the next few races, we have a fairly healthy string of updates that we can bring, as opposed to the last five or six, where it’s been very much a fixed spec.”

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