Mercedes Technical Director Mike Elliott has spoken of the challenges facing the team from a lack of pre-season testing ahead of the 2023 Formula 1 season as the Silver Arrows plots its return back to the top.
After eight years of winning back-to-back World Championships, Mercedes suffered their worst season in Formula 1 since 2013 as it collected only a solitary win and finished a distant third in the Constructors’ championship.
Having appeared to get on top of the problems that plagued its troublesome 2022 car towards the end of the campaign, Mercedes elected to launch a revised evolution of the W13 with its brand-new W14, retaining its zero sidepod concept for the second year of the current regulations.
But with only a single pre-season test before the opening race weekend gets underway in 2023, Elliott has warned that the shortage of running can prove difficult for a team to understand the performance baseline of their respective packages and identify relevant reliability issues.
“We never really got on top of the car balance last year. All the normal work we do at the beginning of the season didn’t happen because of the problems we were trying to rectify,” Elliott said.
“With only three days of testing this year, that has two big impacts.
“The first is in reliability. If we are not reliable in the test, then we will have very limited mileage to learn. We also won’t be able to measure the car’s absolute reliability too much, because over three days you are not going to get huge amounts of running.
“These cars are now so reliable that you need more mileage than three days to really start seeing some of the issues.
“The second big impact is that we’ve got to use our limited time as efficiently as possible. We’ve got to learn as much as we can, to work out how to get the most performance out of the car and what we can learn to feed into the next developments.”
With the limit on pre-season testing time, utilising simulation tools back at the teams’ factories to establish performance and reliability numbers is becoming vitally more important.
Although Elliott argues there is no substitute for actual track time, the Mercedes technical chief believes the Silver Arrows are going into testing for the new season as best prepared as it ever has been.
“As we develop the car throughout the winter, we test as much as we can on rigs. We do everything we can to make sure that the car is reliable, and that the performance we expect is measured as best as we can,” he continued.
“When we arrive at pre-season testing, we want to be as prepared as we can be but there is no substitute for the real thing. It’s running the car around a real, live racetrack that will help us learn.
“Although we go into testing this year as prepared as we have ever been, doing all the work that we need to in three days will still be tough.”
George Russell became the first driver to get behind the wheel of the W14 after the car had officially been launched in a shakedown event at Silverstone.
Mercedes will continue their pre-season preparations with Russell involved again in an official filming day event, where the team are permitted to do up to 100km of running.
The one-time F1 race winner will share that responsibility with team-mate, Lewis Hamilton, before the pair head out with the rest of the Mercedes team to Bahrain for pre-season testing in a week’s time.
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