‘Throwing good money after bad’: Mercedes issue warning about upgrades

Mercedes are hopeful that their upgrade packages will put them back on the path to challenging Red Bull.

Mercedes technical director James Allison believes his team have a strong chance of winning the closely contested upgrade race among themselves, Aston Martin, Ferrari, and McLaren, as each team strives to close the gap to the dominant Red Bull. 

The recent surprise performance by McLaren at the British Grand Prix, where Lando Norris secured a second-place finish ahead of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, has intensified the battle for upgrades.

In a video released on the Mercedes team’s YouTube channel, Allison reflected on their performance at Silverstone and discussed their future plans for the season. 

When asked if Mercedes could establish a lead in the upgrade race, Allison responded optimistically, saying, “Well, the simple answer is yes. We’re only just around about halfway through the season and there’s still plenty more development to come in these cars.”

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He acknowledged that all teams would eventually shift their focus to next year’s car, reducing the rate at which improvements can be made. 

“All of the teams will of course be turning their attention to next year and that will sort of just de-fang all of us a little bit in terms of the rate at which we can improve our cars, but for each of us and for us absolutely, there are improvements that we would like to make on the current car that we know will also carry into next year.”

However, Allison emphasised that Mercedes and other teams have identified areas for improvement in their current cars that would also carry over into next year. He likened the upgrades to a worthwhile investment.

“So it doesn’t feel like sort of throwing good money after bad, it feels like you’re investing in both seasons with those upgrades.”

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Allison expects to witness a series of position changes in the upcoming races as teams introduce upgrades and gain temporary advantages. 

He stated, “So for us, yes, you’ll see the upgrades coming for a little while longer, I suspect for the others too, and what you will get in these next sequence of races is a little bit of yo-yoing for position in a very closely packed bunch as upgrades sort of make the difference for one team for a while until someone else will come out of sequence with another upgrade a race or two later to sort of even things back up.”

Looking ahead, Allison expressed Mercedes’ ambition to secure a lead in the final stages of the season. 

He revealed their strategy of closely analysing changes from race to race to improve their cars, with a particular focus on McLaren’s progress. 

Allison acknowledged the significant impact of McLaren’s recent upgrade, remarking, “An unusual thing about the McLaren upgrade is its lap time effect is really quite strong.”

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He praised McLaren for achieving a step change in competitiveness midway through the season and acknowledged the importance of understanding the modifications they made. 

Allison stated, “So [it’s] well worth us paying more attention than we normally might to a team’s or another competitor team’s upgrades because in this case, we know that whatever changed has made a really meaningful difference to their lap time. 

“So [it’s] quite useful for us to know what that was and see whether it can play into our own thoughts about developing our own car.”