Mercedes’ Head of Trackside Performance Riccardo Musconi explains that what led up to led up to the team’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix issues, and how they tried to tackle them.
At the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, Mercedes had one of its worst weekends of 2023.
In the their post-race debrief, the team’s Head of Trackside Performance Riccardo Musconi explains when they realized they have a problem, and how they tried to tackle it.
“The long run pace we showed in free practice was quite reassuring,” Musconi said.
“We didn’t think that we needed to change the car around, so we went into qualifying, and the results were around the third row. In a way, we were not pleased with it, and we felt the car deserved more.
“The alarm bells went out during the sprint race because after the encouraging first two laps, the degradation of our car was quite high, mainly coming from the rear axle. At that stage we worried about our performance on the Sunday.
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“We organised for a simulator session back at the factory, looking at the parameters we could change between Saturday and Sunday, as we are in parc fermé because it’s a sprint weekend. That doesn’t leave us with many tools to play with.
“We were hoping that addressing some of the issues we experienced on Saturday, like pushing very hard on the first couple of laps, doing a bit more management and trimming a bit the balance of the car with the flap, would have been enough to put us in a more comfortable position for Sunday.
“What came out of Sunday was quite a bleak picture, resemblant of our Saturday. We improved the degradation a bit on the rear axle but at the same time we started suffering from understeer, so the car was struggling to turn the corners.
“The pace therefore wasn’t there and we couldn’t compete at the front.”
Asked if Mercedes had considered breaking parc fermé rules to change the setup and start the race from the pit lane, Musconi explained why this was “off the table”.
“Did we consider changing the setup of the car? Well, we are in parc fermé throughout the weekend with the sprint regulations so if we were changing the setup on Saturday night, we’d have to take a pit-lane start on Sunday.
“That means that you are released after all the cars are passed by the pit exit, you need to catch up to the back of the pack and cut through it which causes tyre degradation.
“So, for us from a strategical point of view, it was off the table,” he concluded.