Mercedes’ upgrades show promise at F1 Miami Grand Prix

MIAMI — When the Formula 1 grid arrived here in Florida, Mercedes found themselves in unfamiliar territory.

Looking up at a number of teams in the Constructors’ Standings.

The Silver Arrows arrived in Miami sitting in fourth place, 44 points behind third-place McLaren and 99 points behind second-place Ferrari. Even more daunting is the fact that Mercedes begin the weekend a whopping 143 points behind first-place Red Bull.

However, during Thursday’s media sessions both George Russell and Lewis Hamilton expressed some optimism that a set of upgrades the team was bringing to Miami could give them a boost on the track. “ We’ve got an upgrade here, a small upgrade here this weekend. So excited to see developments coming through. And I think hopefully we’ll have a car in a bit of a better working window,” said Hamilton in the FIA Press Conference on Thursday.

As for Russell, he told the media, including SB Nation, that the team has learned a log over the first weekend of the season, and that they were bringing those lessons to the track. “I think there’s been a lot of learnings from the the past races, and I think we find ourselves in a much better position now,” said Russell on Thursday. “We know where the car is operating at its best.”

If Friday’s one and only practice session is any indication, they may be right.

In the early going the Mercedes duo was up in the top three, with Hamilton in P3 and Russell in P2 just ahead of him. Both drivers set those times on the medium compound. Those times were eventually shuffled down the top ten a bit as some other teams started some qualifying simulations on the soft tires, but when Mercedes bolted on the softs with under ten minutes to go, Russell rocketed up to P1, with Hamilton in P3.

When practice came to a close, both drivers remained near the top of the timing sheets, with Russell in P4, and Hamilton in P7.

As far as the upgrades the team brought to Miami, Mercedes listed four upgrades on their submission to the FIA, including upgrades to the floor body, the cooling louvres, the front wing, and the front suspension. Perhaps the most striking was the change to the floor body, which the team described as “[c]hanges to floor roof volume and floor edge detail (more vanes added to the floor edge wing).”

While under FIA rules i cannot share the photographs I took of those changes on pit lane from today, the legendary Albert Fabrega has you covered here:

According to the team, this upgrade “ … changes increase local floor load and also improve flow to the rear of the car and diffuser. Floor edge changes drop the pressure locally, in turn increasing [forward] floor load.”

If Friday’s practice session is any indication, the upgrade certainly has some potential to give Mercedes the step forward they are looking for.

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