Mercedes debuted the latest iteration of its floor design at last weekend's U.S. Grand Prix in Austin as part of the team's continued efforts to gain performance improvements. Toto Wolff, the Mercedes team principal, sees this weekend's Mexican Grand Prix as a great opportunity to put the team's W14 upgrades to the test. The plan is to improve lap times for the remaining 2023 races and to lay the groundwork for the design of the car for the following year. Both Lewis Hamilton and his team-mate, George Russell, have found the W14 to be more difficult than its predecessor, the W13. Some of them have had trouble trusting the vehicle, especially while turning at high speeds.
After finishing second to Red Bull's Max Verstappen in Austin, Hamilton appeared to be on the right track before being disqualified for excessive floor plank wear. In an interview after the race, Hamilton stated on the Austin floor modification, saying that it not only increased rear downforce but also boosted driver confidence and translated to key lap time benefits.
F1: What did Toto Wolff Say?
Toto Wolff: "Austin was a weekend of mixed feelings. The positives are that the upgrade looks to have given us a step forward in terms of performance. Our pace was strong all weekend and it was encouraging to be in the fight for victory. The negative was of course failing to capitalise on our pace with the result. Losing a podium finish hurts and is not a position we want to find ourselves in. The complexities of a sprint weekend and a bumpy circuit caught us out. But rules are rules. We will learn from this and improve. Now we move on to the next race.
"Mexico is always an exciting weekend. The fans are super passionate and energetic. The venue also presents a unique challenge with the high altitude. It has a major impact on how we operate the car, and it is always a challenge to find the optimum solution. It will also be a good test of our upgrade package; seeing how it performs at a circuit with very different characteristics. That will be useful for our continued learning and development for W15," he added.
F1 Mexican Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton Surpised After Second Practice Session
Lewis Hamilton and George Russell agree that the W14 has unrealized potential, but they both accept that the Mercedes team had a difficult first day of practice in Mexico that necessitated extensive work over the weekend. There was a noticeable difference between the car Hamilton drove on Friday in Mexico and the one he drove at COTA, where he showed an encouraging pace in his improved W14 throughout the weekend. In Mexico, his fastest lap was over a second slower than Max Verstappen's quickest time in the first practice session. In spite of showing substantial improvement in the second practice session, he ended up three-tenths slower than the Dutch racer and in seventh place overall.
Reflecting on his first day of running, Hamilton stated, “Not that great. A bit of a struggle in the car today. I mean the car is night and day different compared to last week. And yeah, I don’t know what to say, you just never know what you’re going to get with this one. Some days she’s great and some days she’s not. I think it’s hard to extract the lap, I think there is definitely performance there. It’s just hard to extract it and it’s quite peaky this weekend with the aero map or whatever it might be. So, we are going to work on it overnight but definitely, it wasn’t a fun day compared to FP1 in Austin. We are a bit off but hopefully, overnight we can find something and tomorrow the car will be better to drive.”
In FP2, Lewis Hamilton secured the seventh-fastest time, while his teammate George Russell finished in the tenth position, just a couple of tenths behind Hamilton.