Mercedes’ clandestine test for Pirelli ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix gave them a significant opportunity to advance their development programme for the W04.
That’s the view of former McLaren mechanic Marc Priestley, who explained to F1 Fanatic how the team could have used the test for F1’s official tire supplier to make gains with their car.
The FIA have indicated they were not aware the test had taken place, meaning they would not have sent a representative to monitor what Mercedes were doing at the test.
“They’ve got an open book to put on whatever sensors, whatever testing and development equipment they want on it,” said Priestley, who has over a decade of F1 experience.
Priestley added the test gave Mercedes a chance to increase the mileage on new components so they could be ‘signed off’ and used at a race weekend at an earlier date.
“They’ve had some issues with the hydraulic suspension they’ve got so just getting track time on those things will also have been an enormous help,” Priestley noted.
As Mercedes used their race drivers at the test they will also have been able to examine how changing their driving style alters the performance of the tires – especially as they had three days of data from the recent race weekend at the Circuit de Catalunya to compare it to.
“It’s such a rare thing to be able to have that chance,” said Priestley. “I think they will have gained tremendously from that, from a driver point of view.”
Doubling down on their commitment to electric auto sports, McLaren Racing announced Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast to compete in the 2023 Formula E Series (FE), which completes their driver lineup.
The NEOM McLaren FE team was formed by the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team that won the 2021 and 2022 championships with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel.
“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming,” said Ian James, managing director of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing in a release. “Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success.
“On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front.
“On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.”
The driver lineup clasps the two hands together.
Hughes brings 10 years racing experience in single seater cars, including a role with the acquired Mercedes-EQ team as a reserve and development driver for the past two seasons. He is the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 champion and has multiple wins in Formula 2, including two in 2020.
Announced in August, Rast joins the team after earning two podium finishes and six top-fives in 22 career Formula E starts for Audi Sport ABT before returning to the DTM Series last year. Rast’s best finish in Formula E came in the Puebla E Prix when he finished second to teammate Lucas di Grassi by less than a half second.
McLaren’s commitment to Formula E comes one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour in the driver lineup. After a modest start to the season, the McLaren XE drivers crossed the finish line first in Round 4 in Chile, but were assessed a time penalty that dropped them to fifth. Last week in the season finale in Uruguay, they held onto a hard-earned second place finish.