Lewis Hamilton was spotted taking a close look into the garage of an unlikely Formula One rival ahead of Friday’s practice sessions at the Monaco Grand Prix. The Mercedes ace has endured a turbulent campaign to date given the German team’s continued struggles in terms of outright performance, with Red Bull simply in a league of their own at the front of the pecking order as things stand.
The Silver Arrows have also been forced to contend with the rapid rise of Aston Martin, who made plenty of strides over the winter and have been battling Mercedes for podium finishes in the first five races of the season. Hamilton was seemingly eager to gain an insight into Aston Martin’s design philosophy on Thursday as he was spotted peering into Lance Stroll’s garage while making his way down the pit lane.
Mercedes are currently six points adrift of Aston Martin in the Constructors’ Championship standings, with Fernando Alonso’s four podiums helping to put the historic British outfit above their German counterparts after an impressive start to the season. They have managed to perform to a higher level despite using power units supplied by Mercedes in an embarrassing blow for the latter team as they continue to struggle for pace on a consistent basis.
They will be desperately hoping for their new upgrades in Monaco to work wonders in turning the tide, with an entirely new sidepod and floor design having been introduced for this weekend’s race in the principality. The updates were originally planned to be debuted at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix earlier this month before the event was cancelled due to extreme flooding in the region, including in the paddock at the Imola circuit.
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Mercedes had been working on alternative designs at their Brackley headquarters since Toto Wolff admitted back in March that they had made a mistake in pursuing their unique ‘sidepodless’ concept, with the Silver Arrows having failed to learn their lessons from last season. However, he was quick to admit before heading to Monaco that the new upgrades would only represent a single step forward for Mercedes as opposed to an all-encompassing solution to their problems.
“The revised calendar means that Monaco is now the starting point of the European leg of the season,” said Wolff. “It is a unique event but will still provide an opportunity to learn about the upgrades to W14, but we also need to be careful not to draw too many conclusions from this one event.
“We are introducing the first step in a new development direction. It won’t be a silver bullet. From my experience, they do not exist in our sport. We hope that it gives the drivers a more stable and predictable platform, then we can build on that in the weeks and months ahead.
“F1 is tough competition and a meritocracy. We are not where we want to be but there’s no sense of entitlement. It’s just about hard work to get us to the front.”
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