Mercedes’ recently-appointed executive director (technical), Paddy Lowe, has said that he’s hopeful that recent car improvements will put an end to the tyre wear problems that have plagued the team in several races this season.
Lowe believes that this weekend’s race at Silverstone – his first at the track with Mercedes since moving from McLaren – will be crucial in understanding whether the steps the team have made to solve the problem have been successful.
“It will be fairly critical for us to see how we do this Sunday and then take it from there,” he said. “Some of the things we’ve been doing (to improve tyre wear) have already been deployed and we’ve seen some reasonable results over the last couple of races.
“There’s still more to understand, we just have to keep chipping away at it. We’re hopeful that there will be a turning point from this weekend and that we can turn the car around.”
Lowe cited Hamilton’s recent performance in Canada as evidence that the team are moving in the right direction: “For me that was a normal race battle – yes we’d rather have been quicker, but it was much more that we didn’t have the race pace to take on Sebastian (Vettel) or Fernando (Alonso) at certain stages of the race,” he explained.
“It wasn’t like the car was just disappearing backwards (due to excess tyre wear). It was a normal fight between three teams and that felt much better.
“Mercedes will be behind in that respect, because, having spent so much time trying to get out of this situation of extreme tyre wear, we haven’t put as much effort into fine tuning the degradation and race pace that our competitors have.
“There’s a bit of catch-up to do in that area, even if we have made the steps that we need to make in terms of tyre wear.”
Lowe, however, has no complaints about the inherent quality of the F1 W04: “Genuinely the car is a great car – it qualifies very well. Once (we understand the tyre issue) we’ll be in tremendous shape.”
Mercedes currently sit in third place in the constructors’ standings, having scored one victory and three other podiums so far in 2013.