The Mercedes F1 Team enters the second half of the season with a spring in their step, after ending the first half of the year with two consecutive double podiums, and with Sir Lewis Hamilton currently on a run of five podiums in a row.
It’s a very different picture to the start of the season, where the Silver Arrows were well behind both Red Bull Racing and Ferrari.
However, since finally getting on top of their porpoising problems, the German team are rapidly closing the gap to the leading duo, with George Russell and Hamilton in a five-way scrap for second in the Drivers’ Championship.
This weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix could be even more of a turning point for Mercedes, with the FIA’s technical directive coming into effect.
This will see a number of teams have to raise their ride-height, something which is predicted to be the case for Ferrari and Red Bull.
Mercedes have been ready for the TD pretty much since it was announced back at the Canadian Grand Prix, raising suspicion that they had inside knowledge on what the TD would involve.
With only nine races left, a number of teams will begin to switch their attention to 2023, with yet further regulation changes taking place to eliminate porpoising.
Mercedes; however, are believed to still be pushing on with developing this year’s car, with ex-F1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya having heard a rumour that a “big, big upgrade” is coming for Mercedes this weekend.
“Coming out of the break, the rumour is that Mercedes have a big, big upgrade coming for the cars,” said the Colombian ex-F1 driver during an interview with Vegas Insider.
“If that’s the case, you know what’s going to happen. You know what’s coming.
“I think the big question mark everyone needs to pay attention to is the next couple of races. My personal thinking is everyone will come up with big upgrades. But I think Mercedes have still out-developed everyone else.
“Is Mercedes’ step so big that they will start winning every race and win the last nine races and have a one-two seven or eight times and have a shot at the Constructors’ Championship while everyone else fumbles?
“Or their step is starting to fight against Red Bull and Ferrari? That is the more realistic version of what I see coming. Mercedes might have a shot at winning a couple of races this year if their development goes well.”
Montoya appears to be the only person with this insight, though, with team principal Toto Wolff having not mentioned anything about an upgrade in his weekend preview.
Wolff usually says in his previews if an upgrade is due to be installed; however, ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix he mentioned nothing of the sort.
Is Wolff potentially keeping his cards up his sleeve, or is it simply a case of Montoya stirring a pot?
In his preview, Wolff explained how the team are ready for an “intense” end to the season, after a much-needed break from the “relentless” year so far.
“While we are still not quite in the fight for victories we are getting closer, so we need to keep the momentum going and the pressure on,” said Wolff.
“The shutdown is an important time for the team to take some time off, recharge and spend time with their families, whose support throughout the year is invaluable. There are few opportunities to do so during the season and the development race is relentless, so the break has been well deserved for everyone in the team.
“We are set for an intense second half of the season with nine more opportunities to find improvements, make progress and hopefully challenge Red Bull and Ferrari for wins.”