F1 preview: A lap of the Monaco Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton has been sent a reality check after a promising practice session in Monaco with Mercedes bosses admitting they’re still ‘wary’ despite bringing several new upgrades. The Silver Arrows arrived in Monaco with a series of major tweaks after ditching their original concept earlier this season.
Team boss Toto Wolff has previously confirmed major changes would be made to the aerodynamics of the car. This includes updates to the floor and the installation of a new front suspension.
The team have also scrapped their ‘zero pod’ design used since the start of 2022 to return to a more traditional system used by their rivals. Mercedes trackside engineering director, Andrew Shovlin, has warned the team were still unsure about how well the new parts were performing – sending a pessimistic message to Hamilton in the process.
When asked if all the pieces were working well, Shovlin replied: “It’s difficult to say at this stage in the weekend. We haven’t seen major problems, which is a useful start to it.
“We were doing some comparisons on setup across the car, so I think we’ve got a good direction there. Lewis clearly looked to be in a happier place than George, we’ll just go and pick through that data.
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“But one of the tricky bits with Monaco is the track evolves so much. It’s one thing getting your car in a decent spot for FP1, you’ve got to keep it there through FP2, FP3 into quali. That’s a lot easier said than done. So, good start but we’re certainly wary of the many, many ways that you can get Monaco wrong.”
Hamilton looked competitive in FP1, setting the third-fastest time behind the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz. However, George Russell struggled to get up to pace and could only manage P15 on Friday morning.
Mercedes have been waiting for the new parts since struggling at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix. However, the German marque has tried to temper expectations in recent weeks with Wolff warning he was not expecting a “silver bullet”.
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Shovlin has also highlighted the risks involved in the team’s decision to change their plans mid-season. He added: “If you start with a clean sheet, it’s a lot easier to optimise than if you’re halfway through your development and suddenly you make a pretty big change.
“So the positive of that is we’ve got a big long list of things we’d like to do that we know will bring performance, but it was a really impressive job to get all this stuff to what now [is] race six. That was a really good job by everyone at the factory.”
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