Following a dismal time at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix for Lewis Hamilton, the Mercedes team is rushing to introduce new upgrades for the problematic W13 car in time for the next race in Miami.
Hamilton was just 13th at the end of the last race in Imola, with the team describing the car as 'undriveable' due to issues with porpoising where it starts bouncing down long straights due to aerodynamic ground effect.
Hamilton's team mate George Russell seems to have found ways of overcoming some of the problems and finished the race in fourth place, and the team had been at hard at work developing upgrades to address the underlying issues.
“We are moving forward, we are learning more about it," commented Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin, in a video released by the team this week.
"Hopefully, soon, maybe as soon as Miami, we can start to bring some parts to the car that will hopefully give us an indication on whether we are moving in the right direction."
Mercedes made the first of a number of changes to the car for Emilia Romagna but without finding significant improvements. In fact it might even have m,ade the car more of a handful.
“We are not expecting to solve this overnight," he cautioned. "But if we can get a clue that we're going in the right direction, that we've really got to the bottom of what is going on, we'll be quite pleased we're just moving on the right path.”
Despite the team's current problems, team principal Toto Wolff remains convinced that there is a lot of potential still to come from the car over the course of the season.
“We have a direction where we know how we can unlock the potential that is within the car that would bring us much closer, but at the moment we haven’t got the key," he said at Imola.
Shovlin agreed that there were “encouraging signs” coming from the work being undertaken at the team's base of operations in Brackley and Brixworth.
“When Toto talks about finding the key, what he’s really talking about is, is there an aerodynamic solution that we can apply to this solution that will make this problem go away?" he explained.
"Realistically we think this will be something we approach in steps, rather than one big moment where the whole thing vanishes," he said. "We’re hoping to bring parts to the car soon - maybe even Miami - where we can hopefully see progress on this issue.
“A lot of the work that’s gone on in Brackley has been to understand the phenomenon [of porpoising] and whether we can control it, whether we can engineer it out of the car.
“It’s obviously a bit of a cliche, but the reality is we can’t run the car where we designed it to run,” Shovlin explained. “We’re having to run it at higher ride heights, and by running higher ride heights it’s got less performance.
"That might be true for almost every car on the grid," he acknowledged. "A lots of people are suffering with this problem, and we know that lifting the car is a way of alleviating it."
In stark contrast to its dominant performance in previous seasons, Mercedes drivers have appeared on the podium just twice in the first four races.
The team is currently third in the constructors championship, albeit a long way behind key rivals Ferrari and Red Bull in terms of points.