Mercedes say they are better able to understand how to get the best out of their W15 after the Japanese Grand Prix.

Although the team only took seventh and ninth places last weekend, the team’s head of trackside engineering Andrew Shovlin said they were able to maximise its performance within a narrow operating window.

“The big program we were looking at was to try and get the car a bit more predictable through the weekend,” he said in a video published by the team. “What we found is that we can get it in a window but if the wind changes the track temp changes it quickly falls out of it and that was leading to poor performance in race and qualifying.

“Now there’s no doubt that we’re not where we need to be at the moment, we know that and we know that we’ve got work to do. But certainly working with the car across the weekend was easier, the balance of the car was more consistent.

“There are issues that we need to get on top of and get on top of quickly. But certainly, we seem to have a more stable platform, one where its behaviour through the whole weekend is more consistent but as I said we know that there’s work to do and we’ll be working on that immediately.”

The team’s race was switched by their switch to the hard tyre compound ahead of the restart, hoping to complete the distance with only one further pit stop. But that did not pay off as the team was not able to keep its tyres working for long enough.

Shovlin suspects their sensitive car was affected by shifts in track temperature during the race. He said they began to realise their strategy wasn’t going to work as soon as their lap times began to drop on the hard tyres, but their pace later in the race was more encouraging.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“We stayed out a bit longer on that second stint to build a bit of a gap. We may have benefited from a Safety Car but there wasn’t one. But you don’t want to stay out so long that you can’t then catch up.

“We’ve done the analysis on the tyre curves now and the hard and the medium don’t look very different. It was certainly cooler at the end of the race which may have been helping. But the second stint and the third stint were okay.

“So, we know that we’re not quick enough, we know that there’s a good-sized gap to Red Bull that we need to close down and there’s a bit of a gap to Norris, to the Ferraris that we need to work on. But certainly, the performance of the car was where we expected it to be, in stint two and stint three.

While George Russell moved up from ninth to finish seventh, Lewis Hamilton did the opposite. Shovlin said the endplate damage on Hamilton’s car exacerbated his lack of front-end downforce.

“It did lose a bit, and more than the absolute amount of downforce you lost it just made the car a bit more understeery on a stint where we were probably already a little bit on the understeery side,” he explained. “The track was hot so on the grid we took a little bit of wing out for that. But that additional loss then caused him problems and he was actually quite front limited throughout that first stint.

“At the pit stop we didn’t change the wing but we can put some flap angle back in it. You can put a bit more load on and that actually put the car in a much better place. So in terms of headline numbers, not a lot of lap time when you can balance it out but certainly adding to the problems that we had during stint one.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Become a RaceFans Supporter

RaceFans is run thanks in part to the generous support of its readers. By contributing £1 per month or £12 per year (or the same in whichever currency you use) you can help cover the costs of creating, hosting and developing RaceFans today and in the future.

Become a RaceFans Supporter today and browse the site ad-free. Sign up or find out more via the links below:

2024 Japanese Grand Prix

Browse all 2024 Japanese Grand Prix articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here