Mercedes chief Toto Wolff has promised Lewis Hamilton and George Russell 'major' upgrades for the upcoming Grand Prix in Barcelona, which is the start of the first double-header of the season.
The Miami Grand Prix appeared to look like it could be the turning point after Russell set the fastest lap in Friday's second practice session but he was eliminated in the second round of qualifying, while Hamilton was once again unable to keep pace with Ferrari and Red Bull at the front of the grid.
Both drivers were able to secure points, with Russell finishing fifth ahead of Hamilton in sixth, but Mercedes remain way off the pace compared to their rivals and continue to struggle with 'porpoising' issues that have limited their potential.
With the first double-header of the season right around the corner, where Monaco swiftly follows Barcelona, it's make or break time for Mercedes if they want to salvage their season and team principal Wolff has promised 'major' upgrades for the next race in Catalonia.
“We will carry out a few experiments on the floor for this. In Barcelona, we will then have major modifications to the underbody, which will hopefully already be a solution,” he told Auto Motor und Sport.
Barcelona presents a crucial opportunity as Mercedes can compare their data over the course of the weekend to that of the pre-season test, with the team still not knowing why Friday's session was so good and what changed for qualifying and the race.
"We are not as quick in qualifying and we go back to where we are, and that is behind the Red Bulls and Ferraris. We will be looking at all the data we have, that we have generated, and try to find out [why]. We had really good sessions on Friday with quick laps, and we need to dissect why that is, because we are not on top of it at the moment."
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Track position is vital for the forthcoming Grand Prix races in Barcelona and Monaco, where overtaking is notoriously difficult and Mercedes therefore need to be able to provide competitive lap times throughout qualifying at those events.
Hamilton heads to Barcelona with a tremendous record of five consecutive victories at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya but, at this time, looks highly likely to cede his crown to one of the Red Bull or Ferrari drivers later in May.
Mercedes currently sit third in the Constructor's Championship, which they have won for the last eight seasons, and need significant improvements if they're to hold any chance of retaining their crown.
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