The race weekend at Miami started with good spirits in the Mercedes garages, as George Russell topped FP2 on the W13 on Friday evening.
However, as F1 heads to Spain for the next round of the championship, that one Practice session still stands as Mercedes's highest result of all season so far, and Technical Director Mike Elliott debriefed Miami trying to explain the differences in the team’s results from Friday to Saturday and Sunday.
“That's a question that we are trying to answer at the moment. I think if you were to look at Friday's running it was probably the most competitive we've been at any point through the season so far.”
“Between Friday and Saturday we will have made some changes and actually those changes were fairly minor, but there were also changes in conditions and we need to go through all of that data, extract as much understanding as we can from that and use that to move forward over the next couple of races.”
Before facing the fifth round of the championship the feeling around Mercedes was expectant, expectant of the car upgrades the Silver Arrows brought to, hypothetically, be more competitive on the grid. Now, as the World Champions scored 18 points at the Miami race, Elliott states there’s never a moment the team is not learning about the W13 to raise the performance of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell’s challenger.
“I think it is important to differentiate two things: One is the normal upgrade path and the other one is fixing the issues that we are having with bouncing and other things that are compromising the performance.”
“So, the wings that we brought definitely brought us the performance that we were expecting and were a step forward,” he said.
“The experiments we were doing on track trying to understand the bouncing, we gathered a lot of data, we gathered a lot of data on Friday when we had a strong performance and we gathered data through the race, and as always, the engineers are pouring through that gaining understanding. In fact, every time we run the car we learn something new and that is the aim of the game, the game is to try and understand the car faster than our competitors.”
“Although at the moment we are on the backfoot a little bit with that, there is a huge amount of effort, a huge amount of work going in trying to understand how we improve the car, how do we find that next little step forward, how do we get rid of the bouncing, how do we get back to being competitive or competitive relative to the front-running team which is where we want to be.”
The Mercedes Technical Director was asked whether the conditions at Miami were the hardest the Mercedes pair of drivers have ever faced, and Elliott’s answer was clear: “I am sure they have done more difficult races in the past.”
“I believe George made a comment in the press that he had found that pretty hard, obviously he was battling through the field in a race that was both hot and humid and those two conditions of hot and humid mean you sweat a lot in the car and the drivers actually lose a considerable amount of weight during the race just in that sort of sweat that’s lost to the atmosphere. I am sure they have done more difficult races in the past. Malaysia in the past has been a really difficult race for both heat and humidity, but Miami was probably up there with those sort of races from the past.”