David Coulthard leaps to Mercedes’ defence after design team questioned

Jamie Woodhouse
George Russell racing on track during the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

George Russell on track for Mercedes.

After ex-F1 team boss Eddie Jordan expressed his dismay regarding the Mercedes design team, 13-time grand prix winner David Coulthard backed them to be a stronger force in F1 2024.

Mercedes are still searching for answers to unlock title-winning pace in this era of F1 ground effect aerodynamics, ushered in from 2022, having won only one grand prix since.

F1 2023 marked the first time that the team went winless across a season since 2011, that only their second season back in the series after taking over the double title-winning Brawn GP outfit.

David Coulthard backs Mercedes to be better in F1 2024

Mercedes made the call to stick with their unique ‘zero-pod’ concept for F1 2023, but very quickly realised that was an error and took a different path, upgrades for the Monaco GP creating a new-look W14.

The results did not necessarily follow, Jordan left questioning where things went wrong within the design team of the Mercedes outfit which won eight Constructors’ titles in a row between 2014-21.

There was an in-season reversal of roles for Mike Elliott and James Allison, as Allison returned to the technical director position and Elliott reverted to chief technical officer, ahead of his departure from the team in late October.

“Where do you see their design team?” Jordan asked Coulthard on the Formula For Success podcast.

“Because there was such a mess at the beginning of the year with that sidepod issue. They knew, they took too long to change it and yet they got it together after that, but you have to think, what has happened to their design team?”

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While Coulthard is not privy to in-depth information on what goes on over in Brackley, he believes a team with the F1 pedigree that Mercedes has will bounce back in F1 2024.

Team boss Toto Wolff has teased a “more conventional” W15 as the Silver Arrows strive to reel the dominant Red Bull in.

“Well, inevitably there’s changes over time and people move on because they get tired or they move on because they get headhunted,” said Coulthard in response to Jordan.

“As we saw with Aston Martin, one of the senior aerodynamicists from Red Bull joined their team and that seems to have given them a little bit of stimulus. And there’s a core group of people there that are still ex-Jordan guys actually, who have consistently delivered a good race car.

“So I don’t know enough about the structure of the Mercedes design team, but I have to believe that they have enough experience of Formula 1 and enough brain power that they will be better next year. And I think that can only be good for Formula 1.”

Mercedes were able to see off the challenge from Ferrari to finish runner-up in the F1 2023 Constructors’ standings.

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