Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff has told fans not to expect a seismic improvement in performance as it prepares for its first major upgrade package of the season.
The German side previously identified the sixth race of the season in Italy as the point at which it would introduce the first set of changes to the W14 that it hopes will bring it closer to the fight at the front with Red Bull.
In Miami last weekend, Lewis Hamilton was left disappointed on Saturday as he qualified 13th on the grid, but showed strong race pace as he recovered to finish sixth, with team-mate Gorge Russell fourth following a solid weekend for the 25-year-old.
Mercedes has just one podium finish so far this year through Hamilton in Melbourne, and although alterations to its inconsistent car are forthcoming, Wolff asserts that they will not be game-changing.
“Like I said already, we need to manage our own expectations, because we’re bringing an update package that’s going to consist of new suspension parts, and bodywork and some other things,” he explained. “But I have never in my 15 years in Formula One seen a silver bullet being introduced, where suddenly you unlock half a second of performance.
“So very much doubt that this is going to happen here. What I’m looking forward is that we take certain variables off the table where we believe we could have introduced something that we don’t understand in the car. And to go more to, let’s say, a stable platform. And then we should see where the baseline is and what we can do from there.”
When the teams return to Imola, it will be the first of a triple-header that includes Monaco and Barcelona. Wolff does not feel racing three weekends on the bounce will prove a hindrance to Mercedes’ development.
“I think we know what we’re doing to the car,” he said. “And really quickly we will see whether that correlates with the virtual world.
“I think it’s good to have three races in a row to understand what’s actually happening and then it gives us maybe a little bit of a buffer later on to filter that and then take next decisions of what to do in terms of updates.
“But as you say, Monaco between the two is something that it’s a single lap issue and a tyre that comes into life quickly. None of that we do good. So let’s see where we are in Imola.”
The Austrian stated that the changes coming soon to the W14 will take a “lot of learning.”
“I think we are chasing downforce and we’re trying to do the best possible job in terms of the mechanical platform,” elucidated Wolff. “And so what we’re doing is we’re introducing a new bodywork and we’re introducing a new floor and we’re doing a new front suspension and that’s pretty large.
“That’s a pretty large operation. Large surgery, and it’s going to be a lot of learning in the virtual world. It is good lap time.”