Mercedes Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin says the team is “optimistic” of enduring an improved showing at this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix.
Despite currently retaining a comfortable handle on second place in the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes has struggled to establish itself as the consistent second force to Red Bull on the race track.
The German marque has failed to record a podium finish at the previous four rounds, while Aston Martin, Ferrari and McLaren have all taken turns to share the rostrum.
Mercedes entered the Italian Grand Prix weekend expecting to struggle at a high-downforce circuit that exposed the weaknesses of its W14 package.
The team was unable to challenge Red Bull or Ferrari for the top positions, resulting in George Russell and Lewis Hamilton coming home fifth and sixth respectively.
However, Shovlin asserts that Mercedes will arrive in Singapore anticipating a much stronger level of performance at the sort of high-downforce Marina Bay venue the Brackley squad have fared better at in 2023.
“We are certainly hoping!” Shovlin said during Mercedes’ post-Monza debrief when asked whether Singapore would suit its car better.
“There is a reason to think that the car will work better and that is because Singapore is a maximum downforce circuit.
“Our performance at the high downforce tracks like at Barcelona, Budapest, and even Zandvoort the car was working well, and we’ve had pretty strong performance.
“We’re hoping to be able to be a bit quicker there and get back to a position where we can challenge for podiums.”
However, Mercedes’ chances of a top-three finish could be complicated by an alteration to the track layout that has replaced Turns 16-19 with a single long straight.
The reduction in lap time caused by the changes, estimated to be as much as 10s compared to last year, could potentially hamper Mercedes and boost its main rival’s overall competitiveness.
“The track though does throw up some pretty unique challenges and we’ve also got some layout changes for this year,” Shovlin explained.
“There is a sequence of four corners near the end of the lap that have been removed where the track used to go underneath a grandstand through a tunnel.
“That’s now gone so we’ve got a longer straight which will change a little bit how the tyres are working.
“There is a bit less energy there but it’s also an abrasive tarmac. We’ve got the softest three compounds so it’s a pretty tough race on the tyres and it’s also a bumpy street circuit.
“Added to that, the race is run at night. Plenty of challenges for us to try and tackle then but we are going there optimistic for a strong performance.”
Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has already pinpointed Ferrari and Charles Leclerc as the reigning World Champion’s biggest threat to scoring yet another victory in Singapore.
The pace of Ferrari will be of much intrigue to Mercedes, too, with the team 45 points clear of its Italian rivals in the battle for second in the Constructors’ standings.