Mercedes are confident they have banished the memories of their troubled 2022 car after a productive first day of testing for the team in Bahrain.
Lewis Hamilton ended the day sixth-fastest while team mate George Russell was ninth. They completed 152 laps between them – just six fewer than Red Bull.
Trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said it was a “solid start to testing” for the team which saw its eight-year run of constructors’ championship titles ended by Red Bull in 2022. “The car has run faultlessly from start to finish and that has allowed us to complete an ambitious programme for day one,” he said.
Last year’s car was beset by handling problems from the start and condemned the team to its least successful season under the V6 hybrid turbo regulations it previously dominated. Shovlin is encouraged by what they have seen from the W14 so far.
“It always takes a few days to understand a new car, but we’ve got a reasonable handle on where we want to improve the balance. It was encouraging that it’s a much calmer, more stable platform to work with than the W13.”
Mercedes believe they are now in a position to begin extracting more performance from their chassis with its uniquely narrow sidepod design.
“The performance picture is always blurred after the first day so it’s impossible to say where we stand, but we’ve already identified several key areas where we can find some performance,” said Shovlin. “We’ll work on the assumption that we’re playing catch-up and need to pull out all the stops to find performance ahead of the first race here in one week’s time.
“The next two days are going to be just as packed as today as we’re squeezing every bit of learning we can into the programme. Hopefully the car continues to run like clockwork, and we can make the most of the remaining track time.”
Hamilton was pleased with the team’s lack of problems. “We had good reliability which contributed to our strong mileage total,” he said. “That is down to the amazing work done back at Brackley and Brixworth.
“We’ve got to keep pushing, focus on ourselves, and stay focused. It’s difficult to know where we are in the order, but we’ll get a better feeling in the days to come.”
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2023 F1 season
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