Mercedes Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin believes the team's Formula 1 upgrade package has gotten off to a "useful start" after first practice for the Monaco Grand Prix.
The Brackley-based outfit has ditched its radical 'zero sidepod' aerodynamic philosophy and arrived at Monaco with a new floor, bodywork and front suspension in its push to return to the top of the F1 pecking order.
Lewis Hamilton finished third in the opening session of the weekend behind Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso, though George Russell managed only 15th fastest with a number of set-up issues early on.
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'Useful start for Mercedes'
Asked if the update package could be deemed a success, Shovlin told Sky Sports F1: "It is difficult to say at this stage of the weekend.
"We haven't seen any major problems, which is a useful start. We were doing some comparisons on set-up across the cars so we have a good direction there - Lewis was clearly in a happier place than George, so we need to go through that data.
"One of the tricky bits with Monaco is the track evolves so much, it is one thing getting your car in a decent spot for FP1, you have to keep it there for FP2, FP3 and into Qualifying. That is a lot easier said than done.
"[It is] a good start but we are certainly wary of the many ways you can get Monaco wrong."
Shovlin also admitted that the new direction of the W14 was a compromise.
"We are very much in the situation of looking at the car we have brought here and thinking: 'We would have done that differently if we were doing it again and we would be doing this differently'," he conceded.
"If you start with a clean sheet, it is a lot easier to optimise than if you are halfway through your development and suddenly you make a big change.
"The positive of that is we have a long list of things we would like to do that we know will bring performance, but it was a really impressive job to get all this stuff to race six, that was a really good job from everyone at the factory."
Key areas for focus
Monaco is renowned as an outlier of a track, with teams usually compromising their designs to cater for the unique nature of the Principality, as Shovlin explained.
"To be honest, the floor is what the floor is, the suspension is what that is. We are just playing with the set-up parameters here.
"The fact is, you don't design a car for Monaco, you design it for your Silverstones and your Barcelonas.
"The challenge is always: 'How do you take that car design for another circuit and get it to work around this slow, bumpy, very tight and twisty track?'
"So that is what we are looking at. It is just that compromise... the bumps are bad, it is very difficult for the ride, it makes you want to go soft [on the set-up].
"But the nature of these regulations is the cars do work better somewhere close to the ground, and what we need to explore now is all of those compromises, try and find the right place [for the car.]
"Monaco is about confidence for the driver, Lewis had that and George didn't [in FP1.]"
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