Mercedes set to unleash ‘final step’ of 2022 updates in Austin, says Shovlin
Mercedes will bring another batch of upgrades to the United States Grand Prix – their last in terms of aerodynamic changes this season, the team’s Trackside Engineering Director, Andrew Shovlin, has revealed.
After a difficult start to F1’s new era of technical regulations, Mercedes have been steadily updating their W13 in a bid to get on terms with pace-setters Red Bull Ferrari, and achieve their stated target of scoring at least one victory before the end of the 2022 campaign.
Speaking in Mercedes’s Japanese Grand Prix debrief video, Shovlin ran through how the car will evolve again at the Circuit of The Americas (COTA) in a move that the team hope will not only lead to an uptick in performance over the remaining four races, but also filter through to 2023.
“It’s our final step of aero development and that will hopefully give us a bit more performance, but importantly, with every step we are learning more and more, and that learning we can carry into next year – so that’s part of it,” he said.
“Also, there [are] a few bits where we have taken some weight out of components that will hopefully get the car closer to the weight limit [the minimum permitted being 798kg].”
Despite optimism over the developments, Shovlin added that it is “very difficult” to make any predictions about Mercedes’ raw speed relative to Red Bull and Ferrari in Austin, where Max Verstappen edged out Lewis Hamilton for victory 12 months ago.
Indeed, Mercedes and Hamilton challenged for pole position in Singapore two rounds ago, only for the Silver Arrows to lap around a second off the qualifying pace last time out in Japan.
Given their fluctuating one-lap performance, and taking into account the specifics of the COTA layout, Shovlin said: “It’s a tricky circuit and it was a tricky circuit for us last year. It was very bumpy, there was a lot of overheating as well from the tyres, and we weren’t performing as well as Red Bull were on the softer tyres.
“They have done some resurfacing, so hopefully those issues with the bumps are a bit less, but what’s very hard this year is to really know where you are going to be on the circuit before you’ve gone there and, as I said, a lot of it is about learning.
“We will not really be going to make any predictions about where we are going to perform, we just need to go there on Friday, see what kind of issues we have and then see whether we can solve those with set-up.”
Team boss Toto Wolff added: "Our final update package of the year will be brought to Austin. It won't drastically change our fortunes but we're hopeful it will bring us a step forward and closer to the front runners.
"We want to end this season strongly and the results of the last two races only make us more determined to do so. We need to use the limited track time available to make strides forward for this season and generate as much learning as we can in the development race for 2023 - those two aims are one and the same."
Despite missing out on victory last season, Hamilton remains the most successful F1 driver at COTA, winning the inaugural race with McLaren in 2012 and adding four more victories with Mercedes between 2014 and 2017.