Mercedes technical director Mike Elliott admitted the team are trying to work out why their performance in Miami tailed off over the course of the weekend.
The team looked like they were in the frame to match Ferrari and Red Bull after strong showings in Friday practice, with George Russell taking top spot in FP2, but their performance relative to the frontrunners fell away in qualifying, with Lewis Hamilton taking sixth place on the grid and Russell having been knocked out in Q2.
Russell took advantage of the late Safety Car to have a ‘cheap’ pit stop and, having made his way past Hamilton, took P5 come the chequered flag, just ahead of his team-mate.
This may have represented a solid return for the reigning Constructors’ Champions, but they were left wondering what might have been – and Elliott was at a loss as to how that performance drop came about.
“That’s a really good question and it’s a question that we are trying to answer at the moment,” Elliott said in Mercedes’ post-race debrief.
“I think if you were to look at Friday’s running it was probably the most competitive we’ve been at any point through the season so far.
“Between Friday and Saturday we will have made some changes and actually those changes were fairly minor, but there were also changes in conditions and we need to go through all of that data, extract as much understanding as we can from that and use that to move forward over the next couple of races.”
The car’s design has come under scrutiny for how tough the drivers have found the W13 to control, particularly with the amount of porpoising present at high speed.
That ‘bouncing’ did not seem as apparent to the naked eye in Miami, with Mercedes having brought new front, rear and beam wings with them to Florida.
Team boss Toto Wolff said there would be an “easy route” out of their current predicament by changing the car’s philosophy to offer more basic design solutions.
He remains confident that their current concept could be the way forward though, as he feels there is more pace to be found within the W13, with further upgrades set to be brought to the Spanish Grand Prix next weekend.
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