Mercedes chief strategist James Vowles insists the Silver Arrows have been working hard behind the scenes to “progress the car into a championship winner.” And his comments will be music to the ears of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell after their early-season struggles.
F1 teams redesigned their cars ahead of the new season amid a whole host of regulation changes. But Mercedes have been struggling with porpoising issues and have failed to dominate races like they have done in previous years.
Russell is second in this year’s Drivers’ Championship but trails leader Charles Leclerc by 34 points, while fifth-placed Hamilton has fallen 43 points behind the Monegasque. And the Silver Arrows are 39 points adrift of Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship.
The F1 season resumes at the Imola track in Italy this weekend. And Vowles says the backroom team have been doing all they can to ensure Mercedes can improve on their early-season performances.
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“The work that takes place now is a review of what has happened in Melbourne and an understanding of what we need to do going forward into Imola, and progress the car into a championship winner.”
The Imola Grand Prix is the first of three Sprint events this season after F1 trialled the format last year. And, despite his optimism about the Mercedes car, Vowles admits it could a tough weekend for his team.
“Imola’s going to be a challenging event – it’s our first sprint race of the season,” Vowles added. “So unlike previous events, where we’ve had FP1, FP2 and FP3 really to get to grips with the car and test how we’re going to improve the car’s performance, we now just have one free practice session. And that free practice session dominates what happens in qualifying and in the race. So it’s very limited in terms of what we can learn and what we can do.”