Mercedes Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin has stated that the team realized it cannot fight for the championship in 2023 as soon as they hit the track in Bahrain for pre-season testing.
The former world champions currently occupy the P3 slot in the constructor's battle and are in the fight for P2 against Aston Martin and Ferrari. However, despite some marginal gains from last season, Mercedes have not been able to close the gap to rival Red Bull in the races so far in 2023.
While debriefing the Miami GP on the team's YouTube channel, Shovlin said:
"Well, if we go all the way back to the Bahrain test, Bahrain race, that was when we realized that we didn’t have a package that was going to allow us to fight for a world championship.
"If we continued in that same development direction, we wouldn’t end up in a position where we felt we could challenge Red Bull.
"So, it was around that time that we took some decisions on how we develop the car – how the car works aerodynamically, how we shape the characteristics of the car, how it is in terms of handling.
"What we are going to be bringing to the track in Imola is the first step of that work. This takes quite a long time to develop in the wind tunnel, you can’t just do these things overnight."
Shovlin's comments notably came prior to the Imola GP, which was cancelled due to flooding in the area.
"We do hope it is quicker, we hope it is better in terms of qualifying and race pace" - Mercedes F1 director
Andrew Shovlin admitted that Mercedes was looking forward to the first upgrade package. However, he also accepted that it is only the first step in their bid to move closer to Red Bull.
"The Imola package is the first step in that direction. We are hoping to bring other updates later in the year. We do hope it is quicker, we hope it is better in terms of qualifying and race pace.
"But, as I said, the key thing is not just looking to bring a lap time update. We are looking to head off in a different development direction, one that we think gives us a better chance in the long term of being able to challenge for race wins and world championships."
Since the Imola GP weekend has been canceled, Mercedes may introduce the much-awaited upgrade package in Spain in June. The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya might notably be the best-suited circuit to see the vehicle's performance gains.