Mercedes definitely wants to celebrate its first win of the season in the last three races and, ideally, oust Ferrari from second place in the team classification. With their thoughts, the engineers are practically only on the car for the coming season.
Actually, the atmosphere in the Silver Arrow camp should have been great after the US Grand Prix. After all, you weren't that close to winning this year. The Austin upgrades brought the car to the top. In addition, the gap to Ferrari in the team classification could be reduced. But for the team leadership, these are just small steps on the way to the big goal. Only wins and titles count for Mercedes.
"We need to hear the German anthem more often again," said team boss Toto Wolff after the race. "We've won eight titles in ten years. Now it's time to win races again. We gave the others a few trophies. But next year we'll fight back."
Ideally, you want to find your way to winning ways in the remaining three races this season. And second place in the constructors' championship would also be snatched away from Ferrari. The gap is currently 53 points. But the focus of the engineers has long been on the development of the AMG W14 for the 2023 season.
Form curve like a share price
All the experience that has been made with the current Silver Arrow should flow into the new model. If possible, the mistakes should not be repeated. Wolff is satisfied with the rate of increase: "At the beginning of the season we were miles behind. In between we had big setbacks again and again, like in Spa for example. The form curve is like a share price, it always goes up and down. It's just important that the overall trend is upwards."
A construction site was the heavy weight. Despite losing a few pounds at Austin, the car is still over the limit. According to technical director Mike Elliott, the focus this season has been more on eliminating the aerodynamic problems: "So we didn't specifically look at the weight. We saved that for the winter."
Mercedes also couldn't get rid of the high air resistance over the course of the season. On the straights, the Silver Arrow was regularly the slowest car. In order not to become easy prey, the engineers were often forced to add smaller wings, which in turn had a negative effect on the speed in the curves.
Wind tunnel advantage over Red Bull
"Unfortunately, the budget cap meant we couldn't constantly produce new parts or search forever for solutions in the wind tunnel," regrets Wolff. "So that's also a project for next year." Speaking of the wind tunnel.As the all-time champion, Mercedes has always had the least development resources in recent years in terms of CFD runs and wind tunnel hours. That will be different next year.
"If we finish third in the Constructors' Championship, we'll have 14 percent more than Red Bull," calculates Wolff. "The rules were written deliberately so that you have the opportunity to make up for some of the deficit." That's why they deliberately don't want to give away second place in the World Cup, even if that would bring advantages in development next year.
However, it is possible that the resource advantage over the Red Bull competition is increasing for another reason. The Milton Keynes team is still awaiting a penalty for allegedly exceeding the budget limit. A reduction in the wind tunnel time is said to be part of the package of measures proposed by the FIA.
Experiments with the old car
At Mercedes, people prefer to focus on themselves. The last three races should be used to collect as much data as possible, which will then flow into the development of the 2023 model. "We don't have any more major upgrades planned, but there will still be changes to the car. We still want to run some experiments that will help us develop the new car," reveals chief engineer Andrew Shovlin.
In general, however, one is satisfied with the findings. Technical director Elliot is confident: "We have found a path that we believe in and that we can follow in order to improve. Unfortunately, in Formula 1 you never get all the answers. You are always learning. For us it was important to ensure that we're not missing anything. We've been doing a lot of experimentation to see where else we can find something."
The Brit knows how big the task ahead is: "With Ferrari and Red Bull we have two very strong opponents. We have to do a really good job over the winter to get to the same level or hit her."
W14 with new architecture
Now, of course, everyone is interested in how big the operation on next year's car will be. Will Mercedes keep the radical concept with the mini side boxes? Elliott doesn't want to show his cards just yet. Only so much: "The car will look different. I won't say why, but it will look different."
Team boss Toto Wolff is at least a little more specific: "The DNA of the car will change. That's for sure. But that doesn't necessarily mean that the paneling will be significantly different from the current model. But the architecture underneath will certainly be quite different be others."