Despite Lewis Hamilton's second-place finish in the Australian Grand Prix and the Mercedes W14's improved performance, the team is determined to continue refining its Formula 1 car. George Russell emphasized that the gains seen in the tunnel are vital for the team's ultimate goal of winning, rather than just being the best of the rest.
Although Mercedes has made early strides with the W14 and secured its first podium finish of the season at the Australian Grand Prix, the team remains committed to making significant changes to its Formula 1 car. Lewis Hamilton’s second-place finish at the event marked a more competitive weekend for Mercedes, but the team is not yet satisfied.
Mercedes’ improved performance in Melbourne was not the result of a major upgrade or a sudden change to the existing car. Instead, George Russell revealed that the team had found that running the car differently from what simulations suggested led to better results, indicating that there may still be weaknesses in Mercedes’ virtual development tools.
Russell said, “With the knowledge I have now, I think we probably could have had the car in a very different window in Bahrain to have more performance.” He added that the team needs to “look and understand why the sims are telling us one thing that we’re going in a slightly different direction from.”
Although the car performed well in the Australian Grand Prix, Mercedes believes it is still more on a knife edge compared to Red Bull and Aston Martin, and therefore edgier to drive. This means that finding the right window will make a significant difference in performance.
Mercedes’ grasp on the tire warm-up demands of Albert Park, combined with Friday practice disruption due to rain, seemed to push the W14 closer to its maximum potential. However, this single strong performance does not negate the fact that the car is not fast enough overall, as it was still second-best to Red Bull.
When asked if significant changes to the car were still necessary, Russell responded: “No, it’s definitely still necessary.” He further explained that the team is “here to win” and that the gains they are seeing in the tunnel will bring substantial performance improvements.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff acknowledged the progress made in Melbourne, stating, “It was good to see that we are racing Ferrari and Aston Martin. We just need to consolidate that.” He also expressed hope that as the team learns more about the car and introduces upgrade packages, they will be able to challenge the leaders more effectively.