2022 and 2023 must have been challenging years for Mercedes. After dominating from 2014 to 2020, they’ve been struggling lately. Mercedes found it difficult to fully grasp the new ground effect regulations and saw their unique zero sidepod concept fall short. Now, they must regroup and make significant strides towards the new Formula 1 season.
Mercedes is confident in their progress. They abandoned the zero sidepod concept, and by the end of 2023, improvements were noticeable. In the United States, Mercedes introduced a new floor that definitely enhanced performance. The results didn’t always reflect this, but Lewis Hamilton and George Russell were positive about the developments.
Mercedes Formula 1 Challenge
This winter, the Silver Arrows also made a crucial move in management. Team Principal Toto Wolff and Technical Director James Allison extended their contracts, remaining on board for the new regulations set for 2026. First, the focus is on 2024. Mercedes is optimistic, but how realistic is this optimism?
In 2023, Mercedes fell short in many areas compared to Red Bull. Closing such a vast gap quickly is no easy feat, but Allison sees some bright spots. Speaking with RACER, he mentioned significant improvements to the rear wing.
“We are hopeful that the less favorable characteristics of the rear end and handling will be more to our liking,” says Allison. “So far, we’ve only seen this in simulations, but it’s plausible that we’ve made some progress with the rear wing. Then there’s the regular work of making the car lighter, increasing downforce, and hopefully gaining a bit more power by calibrating the engine. This is still achievable under the current regulations.”
In principle, engines are no longer allowed to be further developed, but manufacturers can still extract more power from the current concept by making the power unit more reliable. If the improvements from simulations are also evident on the track, it’s likely that Mercedes will make a step forward. However, it remains to be seen if this will be enough to catch up with Red Bull, which brought few updates in 2023. James Allison acknowledges this.
F1’s Unpredictable Future: Teams Brace for Bahrain Duel
“Technically, I think no team in this period has ever been anything but concerned, alongside being excited or whatever. You’d have to be psychotic to be very confident because you only know one side of the story.”
By ‘one side of the story’, Allison means it’s unclear what the other teams have done over the winter. Therefore, all teams will keep their cards close to their chest until the first Grand Prix in Bahrain. Mercedes might proclaim they have made a significant improvement, but if Red Bull or Ferrari come up with a brilliant innovation, it might count for nothing. Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean Mercedes lacks confidence.
The drivers could also make a difference. Team Principal Wolff believes he has the best driving duo in Hamilton and Russell. While it’s hard to prove definitively, it’s certain they will be hungry, especially due to the lesser results in recent years. Hamilton is also chasing his eighth title, while Russell is eager to fulfill his boyhood dream of winning his first world championship.
Is it realistic for Mercedes to pose a threat to Red Bull? Absolutely, although the promised improvements need to be visible on the track. Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner and Max Verstappen have often spoken about the law of diminishing returns. Mercedes seems to have more to gain than Red Bull, which arguably had a perfect car in 2023. How exciting would it be if the intense rivalry of 2021 makes a comeback? We’ll soon find out in Bahrain.
Mercedes Formula 1 Challenge Plans for a F1 Comeback 2024. Mercedes Formula 1 Challenge Plans for a F1 Comeback 2024
- Read More>MCLAREN TOPS F1 2024 SPONSORSHIP RANKINGS
- Following us on Facebook and Twitter.