After launching its new W11 car in February, Mercedes impressed with pre-season testing before heading to the Australian Grand Prix as a favorite for victory before the race was canceled.
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The first 10 races of the 2020 season were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which also caused all teams to observe a long period of stoppage.
But with all the teams returning to work and preparing for an eight-grand prix race in 10 weeks, Mercedes’s attention has returned to adding developments to the car which it hopes will offer a seventh series of consecutive championships this year.
Mercedes technical director James Allison said that although the team was forced to stop work during the shutdown period, as much work as possible was devoted to developing the W11 car.
The team now aims to bring these improvements to Austria for the start of the season.
“If you imagine where the launch car and the car that went to Australia was, it was frozen around Christmas,” Allison said in a social media video from Petronas, a technical partner.
“There was the whole of January, the whole of February, the month of March, which made the car faster in the wind tunnel and also in the design offices.
“We had quite a few ideas on how to make it faster, and many of these ideas were already being processed by the design office before we were forced to close nine weeks ago.
“Our challenge now is to get the quarter-year of development off the drawing boards and into the car as quickly as possible.
“We hope to have a good part of it for the first race in Austria, and the following season will of course take as much development as quickly as we can put it on the car in turn. ”
Ferrari is expected to bring an updated engine and gearbox to Austria, but smaller teams such as Haas are suspending development until the schedule and corresponding budgets for the year are finalized.
The urge to add updates to the Mercedes car will boost drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, who recently returned to the track in a private test at Silverstone while driving the 2018 Mercedes W09.
Allison said that while he thought the long break in the race would have a bigger toll for the drivers than the rest of the Mercedes team, there was no doubt that Hamilton and Bottas were well prepared for the start of the new season.
“I mentally expect it to be more difficult for the drivers than for the team this waiting period,” said Allison.
“For the pilots, all the peaks of emotion are amplified, the highs are higher, the lows lower. To get ready to leave at the start of the season and then take it like it was Melbourne, it’s difficult, I think, for the drivers.
“It will be a sign of their resilience and their competitiveness to see them get back to work with all the dynamism and vigor necessary to be up to the task from the start.
“I have no doubt that Lewis and Valtteri will be ready to leave when it matters to Austria. “