Mercedes are still preparing for tough F1 weekends

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell were in contention for victory at the Dutch Grand Prix last weekend, before their hopes were dashed by a late VSC and safety car spell.

It comes as Russell clinched the team’s first pole position of the season ahead of the Hungarian GP’s summer break, where he led the race early before finishing third.

While the unique characteristics of Spa-Francorchamps led to a more difficult time in Belgium, Mercedes says the lessons learned there helped to understand how to extract the best performance from its delicate W13.

But despite feeling that this is mostly what the car needs, team principal Toto Wolff is wary that there are still tracks – especially bumpy sites like Austin – that can be used for the to stumble.

“Our performance is fundamentally rooted in the concept car as it is, but now we have a better understanding of how everything interacts,” he said. “I think we can tune the car more precisely to suit and target the performance window.

“Having said that, there will be races that are better for us and there may be some on the calendar that are very difficult.

“Austin is something we discussed: it can be very difficult. We must therefore remain realistic in my opinion.

“We won’t be fighting for pole positions at every other race track, but at least we really need to get back to that point for next year.”

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes AMG

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Along with how the W13 dislikes bumpy circuits, as the car can’t drive as close to the ground as needed to produce its maximum downforce, Hamilton and Russell also struggled with a lack of straight-line speed.

Wolff says the key now is to understand what is needed to progress for next season so that the car performs better everywhere.

“This bad [at Spa] was really necessary to understand why it was good here [in Zandvoort],” he said. “Strange as it may seem for a high-tech science lab on wheels, the data doesn’t seem to correlate this year. And so we’re collecting data on the trail in order to piece the puzzle together.”

“We’ve added a few new pieces of the puzzle to figure out for next year. But, as I said before, I don’t expect weekends like this every week until the end of the year.

“There will be bumpier circuits that won’t allow us to get the car to where we want to drive, and there will be tracks where there will be a lot of drag limitation. So we’re not going to win the next seven races.

Wolff also suggested the team might be willing to take a few more risks in their bid for a win this year, following their Dutch GP safety car gamble.

Although the decision to keep Lewis Hamilton on a used support for the restart backfired, Wolff says he’s more than happy to take a chance on a win.

“Every day of my life I’d rather risk everything to win the race than cement in second and third,” he said.

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