Mercedes is planning to unleash as much development as possible at the Formula 1 season opener in Austria by deploying three months’ worth of work conducted prior to the hiatus.
The F1 season was suspended on the morning of the first Friday of the championship, before opening practice had begun at the Australian Grand Prix.
It means teams have not run their cars properly since pre-season testing, while nearly three months observing shutdown and/or lockdown restrictions at base mean minimal development work has been conducted since then.
However, with the season set to start in Austria at the beginning of July and teams returning to work this month, Mercedes is hoping it can start with an upgraded version of the W11.
The car it was set to start the championship with was just a launch spec, with development work conducted over the first two and a half months of the year that would have resulted in new parts being produced in the early part of the season.
“We haven’t yet done a single race, but actually quite a lot of time has passed since we launched this car,” said Mercedes technical director James Allison in an in-house video.
“And if you imagine where the launch car was and the car that would have gone to Australia that was frozen around about Christmas.
“So there was whole of January, the whole of February, March, all making the car quicker in the windtunnel and also in the design departments.
“And so we got quite a lot of ideas about how to make it quicker. And quite a lot of those ideas were already in process through the design office before we were forced to shut down.
“So our challenge now is to make sure that that quarter of a year of development can get off the drawing boards and onto the car as swiftly as possible.
“We hope to have a chunk of that for the first race in Austria. And the season that follows will, of course, take as much of the development as fast as we can get it onto the car, in turn.”
Mercedes started the process of teams running cars on-track again by testing at Silverstone with a 2018 car last week.
That has helped it get used to the new safety protocols that will be in place when F1 starts following the coronavirus pandemic.
But it was also useful for the team and drivers to get back in a live environment of running the car again following the hiatus, limiting the on-track absence to just over 100 days instead of four months.
Allison, who was speaking before that test took place, said F1 teams were facing something of a race against time to be ready and ensure the suspended season does not have any lasting effects on performance.
“Although it might feel distant to all the fans of the sport who are hungry for for that on track action, the first race in Austria feels desperately close to us,” Allison said.
“So we’re utterly paranoid now to use the few weeks we have ahead of us to make sure that the interruption doesn’t throw us off our normal balance and poise, and that we do get everything back up to the sort of ramming speed that we have at the end of winter testing and prior to the first race of a normal season.
“All of our efforts are around ramping that back up, turning all the systems back on, and making sure we’ve blown away all the cobwebs and that we’re fighting fit and good to go by the time we hit Austria.”