Mercedes chief engineering Andrew Shovlin believes the team’s W14 machine “was in a much better place” during the final day of Formula 1 pre-season testing in Bahrain on Saturday.
Lewis Hamilton and George Russell made an encouraging start to 2023 testing on Thursday with a car that didn’t seem to suffer from porpoises like its damned predecessor.
But the week took a wrong turn on day two, when Brackley’s team struggled with balance all day in both hot day and cool evening conditions.
The team admitted they were baffled by his performance loss and conducted an in-depth investigation Friday night to identify the W14’s handling issues and subsequent performance loss as he ended the day down by two seconds.
Chief Engineering Officer Shovlin confirmed that the team was able to come up with a setup solution that kept his car in a much better place.
“A fair amount of work was done overnight to find some improvements to the car’s specification and get us back on track with the setup,” he said.
“It looks like we’ve made progress; both drivers felt the car was in a much better place across a range of conditions today [Saturday] And the balance is closer to what they need on one lap and over the long haul.
“Obviously we still have work to do on the speed of the car however [Saturday] It gave us a more coherent picture of where we need to focus our efforts.
“We will use the time before next weekend to review the data we have collected and aim to extract more lap time.”
Lewis Hamilton and George Russell think they have made progress with the Mercedes W14
Photography: Mark Sutton
Russell, who completed 83 laps in the morning session, felt the W14 “was in a much better window” in the hot conditions that proved so troublesome on Friday.
“It was a more positive day today, we took a step forward and made progress on the issues we faced yesterday,” he said.
“I think we’ve improved the car over the course of testing and we got the W14 in a much better window today.
“There is still a lot of work to do but we are in better shape for next week with more to come.”
Hamilton took over in the afternoon and finished second on his fastest of 63 laps using Pirelli’s softer C5 compound, three tenths behind Red Bull driver Sergio Pérez in the slower C4s.
The seven-time world champion admitted Mercedes is “not exactly where we want to be” but praised the team’s progress and work ethic.
“There was a lot of discovery, and the whole team approached it with the same mindset, hard work, no complacency and focus,” he said.
“We’re not exactly where we want to be, but it’s a good platform to start from. We don’t know where we’ll be next week, but we’ll stay positive and keep pushing to the limit.”
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