Mercedes, the reigning giants of Formula 1, are no strangers to the constant pursuit of excellence. However, in recent times, their trackside engineering director, Andrew Shovlin, hinted at “interesting projects” in the pipeline to tackle the team’s performance issues head-on. This revelation follows Lewis Hamilton’s recent candid remarks regarding the formidable challenges of driving the W14.
Shovlin, an influential figure within the Mercedes camp, openly acknowledged the W14’s performance inconsistency. He candidly admitted that they are “just not quick enough” to consistently challenge their arch-rivals, Red Bull Racing. The Formula 1 landscape has witnessed a notable tightening of the competitive field, where even minor performance gaps can lead to early qualifying exits. Mercedes, known for their relentless pursuit of perfection, faces the pressing need to regain their competitive edge.
The recent struggles faced by Mercedes and their star driver Lewis Hamilton have not gone unnoticed by Formula 1 enthusiasts worldwide. Hamilton, a seven-time world champion, did not mince his words when describing the W14 as one of the hardest cars he’s ever had to pilot. These remarks sent shockwaves through the Formula 1 community, as it’s rare for a driver of Hamilton’s caliber to express such sentiments.
In a candid pre-race interview ahead of the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix, Andrew Shovlin took the opportunity to address the concerns that have been swirling around the team’s performance. When pressed about Hamilton’s comments on the car’s challenging nature, Shovlin provided insight into the team’s ongoing efforts to unlock the W14’s full potential. He stated, “We’re well aware of the challenges we’re facing. The W14 has been a handful for Lewis, but it’s also a testament to the ever-evolving nature of Formula 1 technology.”
Shovlin’s optimism shines through as he talks about the upcoming race weekend and the team’s pace relative to their formidable competitors, Red Bull, Ferrari, and McLaren. He emphasized, “We’re putting in the hard work to bridge the performance gap. Our simulator team in Brackley has been working tirelessly to fine-tune every aspect of the car. We’re in Formula 1, where the margins are razor-thin, and we’re determined to make every fraction of a second count.”
“We were doing a lot of work to try and solve some of the problems on this car, make sure that we don’t have them next year.
“We have moved it forward, the car we had previously, in 2022, that tended to be an awfully long way off in qualifying, it was generally racing a bit better. The performance was very, very track specific. So, some areas we have improved.
“The big issues, we’re just not quick enough. So, we need to find a good chunk of performance, to challenge Red Bull in particular. But the other thing is the field is now super close.
“You look at some of the gaps we had 12 months ago, and you can have a decent qualifying position… Now, if you do that, you end up getting bumped in Q1 or Q2.”
This interview with Andrew Shovlin provides invaluable context to Lewis Hamilton’s recent frustrations with the W14. Despite facing a challenging qualifying session at Marina Bay during the Singapore Grand Prix, Hamilton displayed his unwavering resolve, describing the W14 as “the hardest car” he’s ever had to tame. Despite these formidable challenges, Hamilton remains a force to be reckoned with on the track, finishing on the podium at last weekend’s demanding race behind the talented duo of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris.
“On the basis of FP1, we’re glad it’s not a sprint race, because we’ve got a bit of work to do!”
In the world of Formula 1, the pursuit of excellence never ceases. Mercedes, with Andrew Shovlin at the helm of their trackside engineering efforts, remains committed to addressing their performance challenges. As the 2023 season unfolds, the world will be watching to see if Mercedes can rise to the occasion and once again assert their dominance on the Formula 1 grid.
“There’s lots for us to work on,” Shovlin continued. “And certainly some of the work will be about making sure we can give the drivers the confidence in the car that they’re lacking at the moment.
“And that’s a big area. We’ve got some interesting projects that hopefully they’ll come off,” he teased.