Mercedes has been warned by team principal Toto Wolff that it can’t expect to replicate its Barcelona performance at this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix.
A major update introduced by Mercedes in Monaco delivered a clear step forward in performance in Spain, where the team enjoyed its most competitive race of the year to date and became the only constructor other than Red Bull to score a double podium so far in 2023. However, Wolff says the Spanish Grand Prix circuit was one that suited the Mercedes, as did the conditions, and similar competitiveness is unlikely in Montreal.
“The result in Spain was a well-deserved reward for everyone’s efforts at Brackley and Brixworth to bring our update package to the track,” Wolff said. “We were pleased with how it performed, and it will provide a new baseline for us to build from.
“But we must also manage our expectations. It was a circuit that suited our car, and we should expect our direct competitors to be stronger in the next races. The gap to Red Bull is large and it will take lots of hard work to close that down. Nevertheless, we’re up for the challenge.
“We now move on to Montreal. With its long straights and low-speed corners, it’s not a track that we expect to suit our car as well as Barcelona did. No matter where the true pace of the car is this weekend, we will aim to maximize our result. The characteristics of the circuit will also provide further opportunity to learn about the W14 and feed into our development path.”
And Wolff says Mercedes can’t expect to make big steps moving forward but can use the updated car to try and incrementally add performance – using additional wind tunnel time compared to Red Bull – to slowly close the gap.
“We just need to chip away … We are really good at grinding. Once there is a set-up direction and a development direction we just go for it. We have that advantage in terms of aero time. But we have to be realistic, (in Spain) the temperatures really suited us. It was nice and fresh, not too cold, not too hot, the car was in an absolutely mega window.
“Let’s keep our expectations real. There’s such a long way to go in order to catch Red Bull and we just need to grind away. It’s a good moment to see the development direction is right.
“It was just concentrating on what we think we know well. It’s all down to the engineering work and operations and all the other engineers to bring that car together. The wake up call at the beginning of the season was good.”