The German carmaker introduced a number of changes for last weekend’s Silverstone race to build on the progress it made during its first development push in Spain.
And although the team still does not quite have the pace to fight with Red Bull and Ferrari on a level playing field, and there are obviously still problems with the narrow and bumpy streets, he is growing optimistic that his problems have been turned around.
Rather than MercedesWith all the focus on eliminating the wildness that proved difficult for drivers in the early phase of the campaign, its thinking is now shifting towards pure performance.
Mercedes track technical director Andrew Shaulin said: “In the first few races we were literally fighting for survival. And the drivers were fighting for survival with a car that was incredibly difficult to work with.
“But we did a decent job of scoring points, really, and taking chances when others weren’t reliable.
“Barcelona was good for us because we had something that didn’t jump at every track we went to. But it’s clear that the recent launch of three street circuits revealed another weakness, and frankly we’re just getting through it: looking for problems and then trying to apply our engineering skills to solve them.
“But I would say that the route we want to take now is becoming more and more clear. And this is encouraging from a development point of view.
“This [Silverstone] the update is the first in the line we started to create in Barcelona.”
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13
Photo: Romney House / Images of motor sports
While much of the focus of Mercedes’ development and progress has been on its zero-sidepod concept, the team was adamant that the shape of the upper body had played no part in the early season problems.
Instead, the key factor was managing the flow of air under and around the floor. And from this point of view, his approach was significantly revised at the Spanish Grand Prix – even though the changes he made were not so obvious.
“From a concept car perspective, we’ve actually changed our car a lot since it launched,” he said. “It behaves very, very differently than when it was first launched. Although if you look at it from a distance, aerodynamically it looks very similar to what we had in the first round, it’s a completely different beast now.”
When asked by Motorsport.com if he really believed the team had a new concept since the launch, Chaulin said: “I think yes, we changed the concept in Barcelona, maybe in terms of how the car works to try to solve some problems. that bouncing.
“And while our bounce problems rightly attracted a lot of interest in the early races because we were at the worst end of the pack when you look at us here [at Silverstone]I think we are actually close to a better end.
“Of course, we are not the best, but we are far from being the worst. So I think we have made progress. And what we’re left with is a car that’s a bit stiffer than we’d like. But it’s definitely a car we can start working with.”
The focus of Mercedes seems to be something that all teams are aiming for is the ability of their new generation of cars to generate the highest possible levels of downforce with the highest possible ground clearance. Right now, the W13 runs too low and with too stiff a suspension setup for anything but the smoothest of trails.
Shavlin added: “Since day one of these rules, the challenge has always been to create high downforce.
“It looks like we’re on the way out and that’s one of the things we’d like to develop. But we are making progress in this direction.”