Mercedes have shown signs of promise this year, with the Australian GP demonstrating a very encouraging race pace from the Silver Arrows, who were able to challenge Sergio Perez for the final podium position.
However, the Imola GP proved a harsh reality check for Mercedes, whose momentum from Albert Park did little to secure a good result on Italian soil, finishing the race in P4 and P13. George Russell’s finishing position was the result of a tremendous comeback after qualifying, where Mercedes struggled to get their tyres in the correct temperature window.
Russell did well to salvage points for Mercedes, especially given Lewis Hamilton’s struggles throughout the weekend. Despite this, Valtteri Bottas in his Alfa Romeo had the pace advantage over the young Briton, and McLaren’s podium finish (courtesy of Lando Norris) suggests that Mercedes might consider looking behind before looking ahead.
This is not to say Mercedes should become less ambitious, but they lack the speed – at least consistently – to challenge the current powerhouses of Ferrari and Red Bull. Porpoising remains one of their many problems, and whilst they continue to address this one aspect of the W13 other teams will be able to improve other areas.
Toto Wolff believes Mercedes have found “several directions” to change their current predicament and will thus bring upgrades to Miami. Ultimately, the improvements Mercedes claim to have found remain hypothetical, and their correlation issues will make it difficult to translate their data and telemetry into on-track improvement.
Mercedes need to improve the W13 in all aspects, but it goes without saying that porpoising (especially given the long Miami straight) will be on the top of their priority list.
Aside from this, as seen in Australia, their qualifying performance has suffered from a car which only performs well in a very specific window and therefore makes it difficult to consistently achieve optimum laptimes.
All the same, Toto Wolff seems confident progress can be made. As ever, all that matters is the stopwatch.