Mercedes explain why F1 2026 is already ‘casting a shadow’ on F1 grid

Thomas Maher
George Russell races his Mercedes in Mexico City in 2023.

Mercedes' George Russell in action.

Mercedes James Allison has explained why his team must get their car right for 2024, with a massive rule change hoving into view.

After being out of title contention for the last two seasons after setting off down the wrong path with their concept for the 2022 ground effect rule changes, 2024 is something of a fresh start for Mercedes.

Now under the watchful eye of technical director James Allison after some intra-team shuffling last year, the W15 promises to be a very different machine and will determine the team’s path over the next two seasons before the next big rules change.

James Allison: The 2025 car will be closely related to ’24

Heading into the final two years of the current rules before the sweeping changes are introduced for 2026, Allison said it’s imperative the W15 hits the ground running to maximise the team’s successes for the next two seasons.

“It’s a new season and we have to make sure we get out of the starting blocks well,” he said, as quoted by

“The car will be completely new and it is doubly important that the car is good for 2024. The new 2026 rules are slowly casting their shadow over us and we have to build the car for 2025.

“The 2025 car will therefore be closely related to the 2024 car. So we need to focus on developing a car that can be competitive in both world championships by 2026.”

To that end, Allison explained the two drivers – Lewis Hamilton and George Russell – have been very engaged at the team’s factory in Brackley.

“Of course, the drivers are most valuable to you on the race weekends, simply because that’s where you spend the most time together,” he said.

“However, it’s a very difficult environment to work in because you’re under constant pressure to do well.

“At home in the factory, you can approach things more calmly and objectively and that has proved to be extremely valuable. It makes it much easier for us to identify the problems and possible potential on the vehicle and ensure that everything works the way we want it to.” recommends

F1 2024 calendar: Car launch dates, pre-season testing, TV schedule

The 14 drivers out of contract at the end of the F1 2024 season

Mercedes depart from previous concept

Under former technical director Mike Elliott, Mercedes had pursued a concept that became popularised as the ‘Zeropod’ – the W13 having no sidepods, while the W14 began life with the same concept.

While sidepods were introduced from Monaco onwards, the fundamental design philosophy of the car couldn’t be changed enough to make a significant impact by season end – something that will change with the new W15 with a new design direction.

But, as to whether this will prove the right decision, Allison can’t yet say.

“Only time will tell. We have a pretty clear idea of what we want to do with the car,” he said.

“Even if we didn’t make the same leap as McLaren last season, we still got a clear idea during the season of the areas where we need to improve. That’s what makes the coming season so exciting for us and the current development phase so thrilling.”

For Hamilton, who is still hopeful of being given a car with which he can contend for a record-breaking eighth world championship, he said he’s doing his part by offering his thoughts and motivating the team around him as much as he can.

“I’m in the factory a lot more often now, having meetings with all the department heads and trying to motivate and cheer them all up,” he said.

“As you can imagine, everyone is disappointed and demoralised after this season. So I talk to them, and point out where we need to improve and what direction we need to go in.

“I just try to help them be positive and say we can do it. I’ve also looked closely at the other vehicles and asked a lot of questions, just to stimulate ideas.”

Read Next: Christian Horner downgraded by Sky F1 presenters over lack of Red Bull ‘authority’