Andrew Shovlin, the Track Engineering Director at the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, was pleased to see the updates brought to the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari appeared to be working well as they hope to be the team to beat this weekend.
Mercedes was not the quickest team during the season opening Bahrain Grand Prix but were able to take victory due to Lewis Hamilton gaining track position over Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen during the pit stop window.
But Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton ended first and second in both free practice sessions at Imola on Friday, and hopefully for Shovlin, it shows the team are heading in the right direction with the design of their W12.
“We brought a few aerodynamic updates here and our early work today confirmed that they were performing correctly,” said Shovlin. “The car has also had a reasonable balance from the start which has made working through the programme relatively easy.
“Generating tyre temperature isn’t especially easy here – the air and track are cold – but at least we’re not suffering from poor rear grip like we were in Bahrain.”
Shovlin admits getting through traffic has been a challenge all day at Imola, with both Bottas and Hamilton struggling to find clear track at times, but overall, it was a positive opening to the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix weekend.
“The traffic has been a bit of a challenge, both drivers struggled to find clear track at times but today is about understanding the car rather than setting quick laps and I think we have done some good work in that regard,” said Shovlin.
“We’ve still not managed to get the grip out of the soft tyre on lap one so that’s something we need to work on overnight. We also can’t say where we stand in terms of pace as we’ve not seen Verstappen on a single lap or long run but both drivers are reasonably happy with how the car is working and the issues we need to solve are all within the realms of normal setup tuning.”