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Mercedes rules out early introduction of F1 car upgrades

Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff has ruled out the team introducing its first major car upgrades to begin reviving its season until at least the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

After drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton scored sixth and seventh in qualifying for 2023 opener in Bahrain, Wolff declared that the team would change its car concept.

While trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin has since revealed Mercedes realised the limits of the W14 in the wind tunnel even before hitting the ground in testing, a major car redesign is a months-long process.

However, during the Saudi Arabian GP weekend earlier this month, there were suggestions that Mercedes would introduce its first development package in time for Baku or Miami.

But Wolff has now ruled out a hasty arrival for the new parts, saying that any lasting changes to the W14 will not arrive before Imola, round six, that will run across 19-21 May.

The Austrian told Sky Sports: “We're doing good steps, good developments, but you've got to run them, confirm them, produce them.

“So, I think we're not looking for introduction before Imola. We want to do it right also.”

He added that while the initial forecast for the effectiveness of the upgrades was positive, onlookers should not expect a “miracle” from this first step.

“That's going in a good direction,” said Wolff. “But we shouldn't expect like a miracle: suddenly we are on pole by half a second. I think it's more like consolidating our place between Ferrari, Aston Martin and us. That would be a good step.”

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

For the interim three races, Wolff said the team would not be “adding any performance” but instead attempting to optimise car set-up.

Notably, in Saudi and again through Friday practice in Australia, Russell and Hamilton were split on their preferred suspension configuration.

PLUS: What next for Mercedes in its quest to get back to the top of F1?

However, in the longer-term, Wolff reckoned the “path is clear” even if patience will be required.

He continued: “We had a bit of a moment where it became so much clearer after the Bahrain race. We were trying to make something work which we really weren't unable to unlock.

“And then now, the path is clear and it's not going to be easy. It's going to take time, but we know where we're heading to it.”

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Russell reckoned the coming car upgrades would provide more of an immediate pace boost compared to the entire step forward taken over the off-season from the W13 to W14.

He said: “Naturally, you can't get things brought that quickly to the car. But I think in due course, we'll see some big changes and hopefully the lap times represent that.

“We’re probably finding more gains in the past two or three weeks than we found over the whole winter by clearly developing in the wrong window. So, it's definitely heading in the right direction.”

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