Mercedes may have lost its second place at last weekend’s United States Grand Prix due to excessive skid block wear on Lewis Hamilton’s car, but the race at Austin offered a glimmer of hope about its 2024 prospects.
Having seen Red Bull take a second successive constructors’ title with this season’s peerless RB19, Mercedes rolled out an upgrade that could inform the look of the W14’s successor.
It was encouraging, then, that Hamilton crossed the line within three seconds of race winner Max Verstappen and issued praise for the update package, despite being subsequently disqualified.
Mercedes put the DQ down to a combination of factors, but insisted the updates were not one of them. Technical director James Allison described the weekend as a ‘cast iron vote of confidence’ in the team’s aerodynamic direction, noting that the setup and track bumpiness impacted underfloor wear. This was exacerbated by Austin being a sprint race weekend which forced setup decisions to be locked in much earlier than during a normal Grand Prix.
Mercedes’ changes between Qatar and Austin were headlined by a redesigned floor. At surface level, this was observable in the shape of the floor’s leading edge. The outer flank of this frontal…