Mercedes W15 now ‘a more stable platform’ but issues remain

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Mercedes has ironed out many of the inconsistencies of its W15 car meaning it now has a more stable platform to work with on race weekends, but issues remain that it needs to quickly solve.

Despite a major design overhaul during the off-season, Mercedes’ W15 hasn’t yet fulfilled the team’s expectations.

Things were looking slightly better at Suzuka initially for Mercedes, after a productive opening practice session on Friday.

However, the weekend concluded with the Brackley squad’s worst overall result in over a decade at the venue.

George Russell managed a P7 finish, while teammate Lewis Hamilton crossed the line a lowly ninth.

But there was a positive takeaway for Mercedes: by developing a "more stable platform" for the car, they hope to unlock more of the W15’s potential and boost the car’s performance.

“The big program we were looking at was to try and get the car a bit more predictable through the weekend,” explained Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin in the team’s Japanese GP debrief on YouTube.

“What we found is that we can get it in a window but if the wind changes and the track temp changes it quickly falls out of it and that was leading to poor performance in race and qualifying.

“Now there’s no doubt that we’re not where we need to be at the moment, we know that and we know that we’ve got work to do. But certainly working with the car across the weekend was easier, the balance of the car was more consistent.

“There are issues that we need to get on top of and get on top of quickly. But certainly, we seem to have a more stable platform, one where its behaviour through the whole weekend is more consistent but as I said we know that there’s work to do and we’ll be working on that immediately.”

Mercedes’ game plan in Japan called for a bold hard-hard one-stop strategy on the race’s restart, after the event’s early red flag period. But that approach was dismissed after a poor opening stint for both its drivers.

“We stayed out a bit longer on that second stint to build a bit of a gap. We may have benefited from a Safety Car but there wasn’t one. But you don’t want to stay out so long that you can’t then catch up,” Shovlin explained.

“We’ve done the analysis on the tyre curves now and the hard and the medium don’t look very different. It was certainly cooler at the end of the race which may have been helping. But the second stint and the third stint were okay.

“So, we know that we’re not quick enough, we know that there’s a good-sized gap to Red Bull that we need to close down and there’s a bit of a gap to Norris, to the Ferraris that we need to work on.

“But certainly, the performance of the car was where we expected it to be, in stint two and stint three.”

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