Mercedes are unlikely to get a true read on their upgrades until next weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, according to Sky Sports F1’s Anthony Davidson.
A long-awaited upgrade package – featuring new sidepods, front suspension and floor – will debut at the Monaco Grand Prix as Mercedes look to close their performance gap to Red Bull after starting a second consecutive season well off the pace.
Monaco is not usually a track where teams would choose to introduce major updates given the unique challenges and risks posed by the famous barrier-lined circuit.
Davidson, who also acts as a simulator driver for Mercedes alongside his punditry duties for Sky, reckons a conventional circuit like Barcelona will provide the team with a much more representative picture.
“Visually the car does and will look very different out on track,” he explained. “Performance-wise, that’s yet to be seen.
“This is a difficult circuit to judge performance on in term of upgrades. This circuit is more about emphasis on the driver, how you get the tyres working.
“Yes of course you need downforce, but this track doesn’t reward efficiency of your downforce package. It just rewards how you work the tyres and pure downforce on your car. Even if it’s a very draggy car, you can still go well here.
“So we’re not really going to see how well these upgrades perform until we get to Barcelona, which is a great testbed.”
Hard to draw conclusions at ‘one-of-a-kind’ circuit
George Russell echoed Davidson’s comments, stressing it will be difficult for Mercedes to drawn any firm conclusions this weekend.
“We are aware this is a very one-of-a-kind circuit and we are not going to read anything into the performance that the new updates show this weekend,” he said.
“There are always outliers in teams who over perform around tracks like Monaco and teams that underperform. But ultimately we don’t design a car to be at its peak in Monaco.
“I trust in the team and I don’t think there will be anything scary with the upgrade that throws us off-piste. We will treat it as a one-of-a-kind and then re-evaluate in Barcelona.
“I am glad we are proceeding with it because you always want to put as much performance on the car as possible and it would have been a demoralising weekend for all of us had we known we had a bit of performance on the table.”
Keyword: Why Mercedes might have to wait until next weekend's Spanish GP for true read on F1 upgrades