Mercedes’ Solo Upgrade at Jeddah GP

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Mercedes introduced a unique performance upgrade at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, distinguishing themselves from other teams who opted for circuit-specific developments. This move comes as the team seeks to overcome the challenges faced in the initial rounds of the 2024 F1 season, with the W15 car showing signs of underperformance.

Between the lines

  • Mercedes was the only team to bring a performance upgrade to Jeddah, aiming to address the W15’s lack of downforce and persistent bouncing issues.
  • Red Bull and Ferrari focused on circuit-specific modifications, optimizing their cars for the high-speed characteristics of the Jeddah track.
  • McLaren and Aston Martin are in a tight battle for the third-quickest team, both bringing lower-downforce rear wings to reduce drag.
  • Williams, struggling with competitiveness, introduced modifications to their beam wing and front brake ducts to adapt to Jeddah’s circuit demands.

Go deeper
In the wake of a rocky start to the 2024 season, Mercedes has taken a bold step by being the sole team to implement a performance-centric upgrade at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. The team’s modified lower deflector is engineered to enhance the car’s behavior across various ride heights, a critical factor given the W15’s earlier difficulties in high-speed corners.

Red Bull, not content to rest on their laurels despite a strong early-season performance, brought a series of upgrades tailored to Jeddah’s layout. These included a modified engine cover and rear wing configurations aimed at reducing drag, a strategic move that paid dividends in the high-speed final sector of the track.

Ferrari’s approach mirrored Red Bull’s, with the Scuderia opting for a carryover of their 2023 rear wing design to complement a new lower drag beam wing. This decision reflects a strategic play to optimize aerodynamic efficiency around Jeddah’s unique layout.

McLaren, seeking to build on their Bahrain performance, introduced a new rear wing configuration designed to offload the mainplane and flap, thereby reducing drag on what is the second-quickest track after Monza. This tweak is part of their effort to secure the position of the third-quickest team amidst stiff competition.

Aston Martin, despite Fernando Alonso’s impressive qualifying performances, faced challenges in race conditions. The team’s circuit-specific upgrades included a modified rear wing and revised front-end geometry aimed at improving airflow and reducing drag.

Williams, on the other hand, appears to have taken a step back in terms of competitiveness. Their modified beam wing and front brake ducts represent an attempt to tailor the car’s performance to the high-speed demands of the Jeddah circuit, a necessary adaptation in the face of early-season struggles.

Lastly, the Visa Cash App RB team showed promise in qualifying but lacked race pace. Their circuit-specific updates, including a modified engine cover and experiments with cooling louvres, indicate a focus on improving airflow and managing thermal dynamics during the race.