F1 2024 teams ranked: Brutal F grade issued to Mercedes and two other poor performers

Michelle Foster
Williams, Mercedes and Alpine 2024 F1 cars

F grades issues for Williams, Mercedes and Alpine at the start of 2024

Former Jordan technical director Gary Anderson has awarded Mercedes an ‘F’ grade for 2024, saying they “are where they were last year” and in F1 terms that means they’ve “moved backwards”.

It has long been said in Formula 1 that if you’re standing still, you’re actually moving backwards such is the rate of development on the grid. And that’s Anderson’s assessment of Mercedes’ start to the F1 2024 championship with the heavily revised W15.

‘In relative terms, Mercedes have moved backwards’

Last season Mercedes pipped Ferrari to runner-up in the championship but it was a season in which neither team nor the rest of the field posed even the slightest threat to Max Verstappen’s dominance.

This prompted Mercedes to overhaul their Formula 1 car, the team dropping the zero-pod concept in favour of a more standard philosophy while also making changes to the chassis, suspension and gearbox casing.

It had the team feeling cautiously optimistic about their F1 2024 chances, but four races into the season and at best Mercedes are the fourth fastest team, at worst, only P5.

Scoring just 34 points, they’re not only 107 behind Red Bull but also find themselves behind customer team McLaren who have scored 35 points more with Mercedes power.

Anderson, a former Jordan and Jaguar technical director, expected so “much, much better” from the former World Champions.

He told the Telegraph: “Mercedes have more or less stood still from 2022 through 2023 to 2024. In absolute terms, they are where they were last year, around 0.8 per cent off the fastest car over a qualifying lap but in relative terms, they have moved backwards.

“Ferrari and now McLaren are ahead of them which means their direct rivals are Aston Martin.

“This is a team that should theoretically be winning but, despite 2023 being a bad year, they have made no real progress over the winter. They are up and down like a yo-yo. They tend to start the weekend well but do not make the progress that other teams do over the three days. It is still baffling.”

He rated the Brackley squad an F for their opening endeavours.

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Mercedes aren’t alone with their ‘F’ grade

But it’s not just Mercedes who earned an ‘F’ grade from the 73-year-old as Anderson has been unimpressed with the “crash-prone” Williams team who have also gone backwards.

“After an encouraging 2023 when they finished seventh with 28 points, Williams have suffered a difficult start to the new season,” he said.

“Their relative lack of pace has been exacerbated by the numerous crashes their drivers are having. If you spend your resources on repairs and replacing parts then you cannot use it for development components to make the car quicker.

“Last year Alexander Albon had several Q3 appearances and even when he was out in Q2 he still had the potential for a points finish, as he did so on seven occasions. They look much harder to come by this year.”

As for Alpine, bottom of the log with their overweight A524, the former technical director cannot see a way out of their “mess”.

“There is a belief in F1 that the sport is more about whether a driver or car can look after its tyres rather than the absolute pace of the machinery. Alpine’s plight has shown that if you do not have a decent car you cannot do anything with it.

“The team, despite their significant resources, have not got themselves remotely in contention for a points finish in 2024.

“Their car is a bit heavier than the others but that does not account for the size of the gap. From testing in Bahrain, the car has looked nervous and inconsistent, with every corner a new experience for the drivers.

“Last year they scored an average of five points per race. This year they will do well to score five points in total. They have restructured their team at the top but I do not know how they can get out of this mess in short order.”

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