Mercedes quizzed over ‘unusual’ antics at Miami Grand Prix as F1 crossroad looms

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F1 reporter Tom Clarkson has noted something “unusual” he spotted in the Mercedes garage last time out at the Miami Grand Prix. The inaugural race in Miami initially appeared as though it was going to prove to be a turning point for Mercedes.

The reigning Constructors’ Champions had brought a raft of upgrades, particularly on their front wing, to try and improve their performance. And the changes paid dividends with George Russell setting the fastest time in FP2.

But the team were unable to translate that performance into qualifying and ultimately finished way off the pace of both Ferrari and Red Bull on Sunday. More work will be done back in the factory to try and get the so-far troublesome W13 competing at the front of the grid.

Key to that development will be Mike Elliott, who succeeded James Allison as Mercedes technical director last year. But Clarkson noticed that Elliott was present in Miami earlier this month, a move he found “unusual” for a technical director.

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And the F1 reporter also speculated on how much Mercedes have used on their budget for the 2022 car and whether they will soon switch their focus to next year.

“How much have Mercedes spent on this car trying to sort it out?” Clarkson asked on the F1 Nations Podcast. “At some point, the money is going to run out and they’re gonna have to make a decision on ‘are we gonna switch everything onto the 2023 car?’.

“Mikey Elliott, their new technical director, he was in Miami. It’s always quite unusual to see technical directors at fly-away races this early in the season.

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“Most of them are back at the factory getting those first upgrades on the car and overseeing things. So for Mikey to be at the track in Miami, I felt was unusual. It pointed to them still trying to work out how best to run the car at the track and he was just trying to guide the likes of Andrew Shovlin and James Vowles.

“Just give them any help he can from a setup point of view and getting from them any ideas as to what they need to focus on back in the factory on upgrades.”

Mercedes will have their chance to see if they’ve made any progress this weekend at the Spanish Grand Prix. While the track in Barcelona isn’t notorious for having plenty of overtaking opportunities, it is where most drivers arguably feel more comfortable having spent hours testing both on track in pre-season and in the simulator.

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