Mercedes provide glimpse into factory life as W15 development ramps up

Oliver Harden
Mercedes W13 nose cone with rain drops

Mercedes will unveil the W15 at Silverstone.

Mercedes chief operating officer Rob Thomas has offered a glimpse into life in the factory as preparations for the F1 2024 season – and the arrival of the new W15 car – gather pace. 

Having won a record eight Constructors’ World Championships from the start of F1’s V6 hybrid era in 2014, Mercedes have been restricted to just a single win over the last two seasons having struggle to adapt to the ground effect rules.

However, the team remain hopeful of returning to title contention with the new W15 in 2024.

Mercedes provide insight into life inside Brackley

And as work continues on the new car, Thomas has provided rare insight into the work happening behind the scenes at Brackley.

He told Manufacturing Today: “It’s always an interesting time because it’s a period of working six days a week, they’re long hours, it’s dark and cold.

“However, what we generally find though is the excitement builds as we progress. It starts in design and that design then goes into manufacturing or purchasing. And then you start seeing bits of new car appearing everywhere, which gets people talking.

“We make big events of the key milestones. Firing up the car, for example, is massive and then we do the first test, and we communicate very regularly with people on the program. Otherwise, it’s just a long slog for six months.

“But those wins are so worth it. We’re all part of something bigger, and that emotion, you just don’t get that anywhere else.”

“No two days are the same. I think that’s what keeps us fresh, and with that sort of motivation that we have to get back to winning again, you just don’t get that anywhere else.”

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With Mercedes boss Toto Wolff among the most celebrated leaders in modern sport, Thomas stressed the importance of establishing and maintaining a healthy culture in the team.

He explained: “Some of the things we looked at very seriously in those first few years was the culture, which we’ve since worked on.

“Our key values are based on what we call PRIDE: Passion, Respect, Innovation, Determination, Excellence. If people don’t perform, that’s what they get marked against.

“We’ve now become a group of very driven people, there’s loads of support and humility, and nobody’s bigger than anyone else. We kill status and hierarchy so that there’s space for ideas to be shared because, at the end of the day, we’re trying to be the best in the world, so we all need to do our bit to contribute.

“However, we’re also aware of this cycle where the team works incredibly hard in the winter season, then recovers over the summer, and then we rinse and repeat.

And if we’re not careful, we forget to enjoy the wins because we constantly looking for the next thing to improve, so we’re also working hard to balance that aspect where we also celebrate the successes – we’re not always great at it, but we’re getting there.”

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