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Mercedes developing suspension updates to help Hamilton's 'disconnect'

Mercedes Formula 1 chief technical officer James Allison says the team is working on suspension updates with a view to addressing Lewis Hamilton’s key concerns.

Hamilton noted at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix that he didn’t “feel connected” to the car, and prior to the Australian GP he elaborated by suggesting the car’s cockpit is too far forward, affecting his feel for the steering.

Allison says Mercedes will take advantage of the gap in the schedule before the Azerbaijan GP at the end of April to work on mechanical elements of the W14 F1 car alongside the ongoing major aerodynamic revamp.

“We are working as hard as we can in the wind tunnel to find more downforce,” he said in a team video when asked about plans for the break between races.

“We will be working as hard as we can in the drawing office to convert the things that the wind tunnel found a few weeks ago into performance that we deliver to the track.

“We will be working in the drawing office also to bring some mechanical parts to the car, some different suspension components that we think will help the underlying balance of the car and make it a more driveable thing, making it something that the drivers have more confidence to push right to the limits.

“And we will be working on the normal sort of simulation loop and routine that allow us to prepare for the race weekends that are coming up, making sure that we land the car in the right place when we get to the race.”

Allison noted that optimising the set-up in the sim is essential for Azerbaijan, where as a sprint weekend first practice will be followed by qualifying.

“Sprint races really reward the teams that can land there with a starting set-up that is pretty on the money and ready to go in qualifying, because the time is really compressed in a sprint race weekend,” he said.

“Those are the things we will be working on and hopefully we work well and strong and have a good showing when we show up in Baku in just a few weeks’ time.”

James Allison, Technical Director, Mercedes AMG

James Allison, Technical Director, Mercedes AMG

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Allison noted that the strong Australian GP weekend, which saw George Russell qualify second and Lewis Hamilton finish in that position in the race, had been a boost for the team but one compromised by Russell's power unit failure.

“Overall, a sense of quiet satisfaction that we have moved the car forward that, from a performance point of view, we probably got as much as it is able to give right now,” he said.

“That happiness of course is tempered by the disappointment that we only got one car to the flag and that George was not able to show what he was capable of in the car on race day, having performed very strongly up to that point in the weekend.

“We didn’t have huge breakthroughs, but we moved forward a little bit. We put a small amount on the leaders Red Bull, and we are starting to get on terms with, and maybe just nose a whisker in front of, the Ferraris and the Aston Martins.”

Asked if the team can repeat the form it showed in Australia at the next race, Allison noted that the two venues present different challenges.

“That is a very difficult question to answer,” he said. “They are very different tracks. Where Melbourne had been front-limited, putting more strain on the front axle, probably Baku will be rear-limited. It's a very different set of circumstances.

“I think we got some reasons to think that as we keep working on our car, we will be able to make the hop from Melbourne to the different challenge of Baku and still have a good showing, but it will be only when we get there and put the car on the road that we will know that for sure.”

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