‘Luxury’ Mercedes tool identified ahead of W15 development

Jamie Woodhouse
Mercedes' George Russell driving during qualifying at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Mercedes' George Russell driving during qualifying at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Former F1 driver Anthony Davidson says the similar feedback from Lewis Hamilton and George Russell is a “luxury” for Mercedes as they look to get back on track in F1 2024.

Mercedes are yet to find their footing in the ground effect era of Formula 1, their desired title challenge having failed to materialise in 2022 and 2023 with Red Bull establishing themselves as the dominant force.

But, once Abu Dhabi brings the curtain down on F1 2023, Mercedes will reset and go hunting again for fresh title glory in F1 2024.

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell a Mercedes “luxury”

With the titles not on the line, and rarely victories either for that matter, Hamilton and Russell have made it their goal to work together to nurse their Mercedes team back to health.

And with both drivers pushing the team in a similar direction, Davidson says that is a major positive for the Silver Arrows looking ahead to their F1 2024 challenger, the W15.

“The good thing is that both drivers have quite similar demand from the way the car feels,” said Davidson on the Sky F1 podcast.

“We’re hearing that the Ferrari drivers, for example, [Carlos] Sainz and [Charles] Leclerc, their styles are quite different apparently and that makes it very difficult for the team to know which direction really to go in in terms of aero shaping as they call it, or mechanical design from the car. It really does compromise things.

“So I think part of the luxury Mercedes have is that both drivers are singing the same song here in terms of where to take the car.”

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On top of that similar feedback, former Aston Martin strategy chief Bernie Collins believes the relatively blank canvas which Mercedes are facing for the W15 will also be a big advantage.

Mercedes decided to axe their unique ‘zero pod’ concept with a package introduced in Monaco, though the W14 challenger is not optimised to run the sidepods which were added, Davidson having respectfully labelled it a “cut and shut job”.

But, looking ahead to the W15, Collins warns teams like the far-improved McLaren and Aston Martin that their main challenge is still to come to find that “last second of lap time to Red Bull”, while Mercedes can start from “ground zero” and truly explore their new route.

“I think Mercedes are maybe in one of the strongest positions,” she said. “Mercedes have a very strong team, they will know the weaknesses of the car now.

“They know it’s not a full philosophy car, if we want to think of it like that. So they’ll be starting from a ground-up design for next year.

“Compared to Aston and McLaren, they’re not bringing online a new windtunnel, they’re not bringing online a new factory like Aston have done, so they are in a set-up position that I think should be a smoother transition to just say, ‘right, we’re going to take this new concept, that will be going through variations in CFD’.

“And I think Mercedes will be in a strong position, because they’re going back to ground zero and starting with a full car fundamental swing, hopefully. I don’t know if we’ve got that confirmed, but hopefully that’s what they’re doing.”

Mercedes have not tasted victory in Formula 1 since Russell headed a one-two finish for the team at the 2022 Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

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