Spanish GP: Mercedes not expecting to be ‘right at front’ in Barcelona, says technical director James Allison | F1 News

Mercedes do not expect to be “right at the front” at this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, according to the team’s technical director James Allison.

The Silver Arrows produced their best weekend of the season last time out in Canada as George Russell claimed the team’s first podium of the season by finishing third, with Lewis Hamilton taking the chequered flag in fourth.

The significant upturn in performance enabled Mercedes to break into the trio of Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren, who before Canada had been exclusively competing for victories.

Mercedes’ progress has come after several upgrades to the W15, and while more are set to arrive in Barcelona, Allison believes the track and conditions won’t quite be as suited to the car.

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The errors that cost George Russell victory at the Canadian Grand Prix, including making contact with Oscar Piastri.

“The changes we have made are making this car a better car,” Allison said. “And that will be true at every circuit we go to.

“The characteristics of Montreal make it look a little quicker than we have a natural right to command at the coming races.

“In Barcelona, I think it more likely that we will be competitive, but not right at the front. Because the next tracks are a little bit of a sterner test of a car. Hot asphalt, wider cornering speeds.”

Despite his caution around Mercedes’ chances this weekend, Allison is optimistic the team will be able to continue to close the gap to their rivals.

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Speaking on the Sky Sports F1 podcast, Damon Hill believes Mercedes should back George Russell more.

“However, I also know what we have got coming,” he added. “I also know what we are planning to further improve the car.

“Our challenge is just to keep those upgrades arriving at a pace that the others cannot keep up with.

“In doing that, just bullying our car to the front by virtue of the effort made by everybody here over the coming weeks and months to get the car so that it can have its Montreal weekend or better at any track that we face in the future.”

Mercedes had introduced a new front wing at the race before Canada in Monaco, but at the time only had one available version of the part, which Russell ran.

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Speaking on the Sky Sports F1 podcast, Naomi Schiff dissects Lewis Hamilton’s comments describing Canada as ‘one of the worst races he’s driven’ and if he’s experiencing a ‘divorce’ with the team.

The unique nature of the famous street circuit made it difficult to assess the impact of the upgrade, but by the time Hamilton was also able to run it in Canada, the front wing appeared to be a major success.

Asked if the part behaved as Mercedes had expected, Allison said: “I would say yes. We had got an idea of how it would behave, because we had run it the previous race in Monaco with just George on that occasion.

“We had two of them in Montreal, and we expected it to perform well. We expected it to deliver a bit more in Canada than it did in Monaco, because the Canada circuit, although unusual, is more of a normal circuit than Monaco was.

“It delivered more performance, it made the car feel easy to drive, well-balanced, and made the car the driver’s friend rather than the thing they had been fighting, which has been what has been problematic in the opening part of the season for us.”

Wolff: Barcelona a good test of our progress

Speaking in Mercedes’ official Spanish Grand Prix preview, team principal Toto Wolff revealed similar expectations to Allison.

He said: “We have continued to make incremental gains across the past few races. It was encouraging therefore to take another positive step forward in Canada. To see that translate into our strongest team result of the season so far is a reward for everyone’s hard work.

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Having set identical times, Mercedes’ George Russell pipped Max Verstappen to pole position in Canada having completed his lap first.

“The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a unique track, however. It has a narrow range of corner speeds and, with a newly re-laid surface, was something of an outlier compared to more traditional venues.

“We know our competitors will perform more strongly at upcoming races so we will need to continue to work hard to consistently get ourselves in the fight for podiums, and eventually race wins.

“Barcelona will provide a good test of our progress. It has a mix of fast, medium, and low-speed corners, a long straight and plenty of elevation change.

“Tracks that contain this wide speed range have been a weakness of ours so far this year. This weekend will therefore provide another opportunity to evaluate our progress through our recent updates, and we hope to build on the positive momentum from Montreal.”

Sky Sports F1’s live Spanish GP schedule

Spanish GP

Thursday June 20

1.30pm: Drivers’ Press Conference

Friday June 21

7.45am: F1 Academy Practice
8:50am: F3 Practice
10am: F2 Practice
12pm: Spanish GP Practice One (session starts at 12.30pm)
1.55pm: F3 Qualifying
2.50pm: F2 Qualifying
3.35pm: Spanish GP Practice Two (session starts at 4pm)
5.25pm: F1 Academy Qualifying
6.15pm: The F1 Show

Saturday June 22
9.35am: F3 Sprint
11:15am: Spanish Romagna GP Practice Three (session starts at 11.30am)
1.10pm: F2 Sprint
2.10pm: Spanish GP Qualifying build-up
3pm: Spanish GP Qualifying
5pm: F1 Academy Race 1

Sunday June 23
7.45am: F1 Academy Race 2
9am: F3 Feature Race
10.30am: F2 Feature Race
12:30pm: Grand Prix Sunday: Spanish GP build-up
4pm: Chequered Flag: Spanish GP reaction

Formula 1 heads back to Europe as the championship moves on to Barcelona for the Spanish Grand Prix. Watch every session at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya from June 21-23 live on Sky Sports F1. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership – No contract, cancel anytime

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