Mercedes chief Toto Wolff has insisted that Lewis Hamilton will not be getting the ‘one-second upgrade’ that he is looking for when the Silver Arrows introduce their latest batch of improvements at next weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Hamilton was forced to settle for a sixth-placed finish in Miami on Sunday evening after wrecking his hopes of securing an unlikely win in qualifying, when he was sensationally knocked out in Q2 in spite of his best efforts behind the wheel.
Hamilton has been a vocal critic of Mercedes’ overall pace over the course of this year, with the German outfit still nowhere near as quick as Red Bull despite taking a small step in the right direction after a horrendous 2022 campaign last time around. Max Verstappen crossed the line in Miami to take the chequered flag with a huge gap of around 53 seconds over Hamilton, who insisted after the race that he needs the Silver Arrows to improve by at least one second per lap in order to compete for Grand Prix victories.
“Well, it’s a bit of an unknown,” said Hamilton when quizzed on the upgrades Mercedes are expecting to introduce at Imola. “It’s not like I have a one-second upgrade coming, which is what I need, but it’s something. It’s a step in the right direction, hopefully, for us to really be able to progress.”
Wolff went on to ease expectations for Hamilton and Mercedes ahead of next week’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix by telling Sky Sports that the team’s first major upgrade of 2023 may not even be worth half a second of pace over a single lap.
“We have to be careful that we have our expectations under control,” said Wolff. “I don’t think we’ll get there and suddenly we’re half a second faster and in the middle of a fight. We won’t, but we are now laying a new foundation and at least taking some issues off the table that we believe are contributing to us being too slow. Let’s see what that brings.”
The Mercedes boss was also able to shed some light on the specific areas that Mercedes are looking to improve with their newest package, which they are hoping will aid their efforts to get ahead of Ferrari and Aston Martin in the race to establish themselves as the second-quickest team on the grid.
“I think we are chasing downforce and we’re trying to do the best possible job in terms of the mechanical platform,” added Wolff. “What we’re doing is we’re introducing a new bodywork, and we’re introducing a new floor and we’re doing a new front suspension and that’s pretty large.
“That’s a pretty large operation, large surgery. It’s going to be a lot of learning in the virtual world, where it is good lap time. That’s why the upgrade that we’re bringing is going to help us to set the direction, and to understand the various areas that we believe could play a role in why the car is so poisonous to drive.”