Mercedes have been left encouraged by its wind tunnel data correlating to the track after revealing its Austin floor upgrade delivered the expected gains.

Despite the United States Grand Prix representing a Sprint weekend, Mercedes elected to introduce a revised floor to determine if the team is on the “right track”.

The German marque enjoyed its strongest showing of the season at the Circuit of the Americas as Lewis Hamilton came within 2.2s of scoring victory before being disqualified when his car failed to comply with the regulations governing plank wear.

However, Hamilton then repeated that second-place finish last Sunday in Mexico.

Mercedes’ Head of Trackside Development Andrew Shovlin issues that its final upgrade of the season provided the anticipated performance step predicted at the factory.

“If we look at the performance in Austin, we look at the performance here, being able to race cars like McLaren and Ferrari effectively, we’d say that the track data is definitely suggesting that we’ve made a forward step,” Shovlin said in Mercedes’ post-race review.

“Now, bear in mind that all the top teams have been bringing updates to the car over the last few races. It is crucial that you can match them on development, even better them, to be able to continue to fight them on track.

“The other thing is we collect a lot of data off the car, so pressures off the floor, pressures off the wings, loads on the car, and all that data is correlating really well with what we’re seeing in the wind tunnel.”

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14. 27.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 20, Mexican Grand Prix, Mexico City, Mexico, Practice Day.

Shovlin insists that Mercedes’ late-season breakthrough will be “crucial” for the development of next year’s car as it bids to battle Red Bull from the outset.

“This floor is actually a step towards the development direction that we want to take for 2024,” he added. “So, very encouraging signs, but still a lot of work ahead of us.”

Mercedes encountered a challenging Friday at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, leaving Hamilton to describe the W14 as “night and day” compared to Austin.

However, the Brackley squad made substantial progress overnight to be in more competitive shape, resulting in Hamilton topping the times in Q2 in qualifying.

Although tyre trouble meant its two cars only wound up sixth and eighth on the grid, Hamilton was able to charge through the top order to only trail Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

“When we finished Friday, we analysed the problems with the car, we were discussing with the drivers where we need to improve it, and then we hand over to the simulator team back in Brackley, we had Tom Gamble, one of our development drivers, in the car this weekend, and they worked through the night going through a whole range of set-ups and luckily they found a nice direction where we were able to improve both the single-lap and the long run,” Shovlin explained.

“That was a set-up that was showing it was easier on the rear tyres, which was important because that was what with limiting in the race work that we did on Friday.

“Then in FP3 you could pretty immediately see that those changes had put us into a happier place. Now, it’s easier when you do land the set-up in the right place. But the reality is with weather conditions changing and the cars being different one year to the next, you can’t guarantee that.

“And what’s really important is when you do have a difficult Friday that you’ve got the team and the tools in place to solve those problems and then come back fighting on Saturday.”

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