Key admission made in Mercedes W15’s development path with questions over ‘true speed’

Henry Valantine
Mercedes driver George Russell.

George Russell admitted Mercedes 'perhaps overcompensated' with the development direction of the W15 this season.

George Russell admitted Mercedes “perhaps overcompensated” with the changes they made to the W15 this year, as a way of trying to improve from the last two seasons.

The team are stuck on one win in the ground effect era – through Russell in the 2022 Sao Paulo Grand Prix – while their fourth-row lockout in Miami had Lewis Hamilton wondering if it was their car’s “true speed”.

Mercedes ‘perhaps overcompensated’ with W15 concept changes

While Mercedes have struggled to match Red Bull since the mass regulation changes of 2022, the team made significant changes to the car this year in the hope of bringing about better results this time around.

Both Russell and Hamilton spoke highly of their car’s prospects in pre-season testing, but the results have not yet played out in their favour – with Ferrari and McLaren having made clearer steps forward in 2024.

Russell admitted the reality that seventh and eighth on the grid reflects Mercedes’ current competitive standing, and while they know what they need to do to improve, it is not as simple as a quick fix.

“I expect to be looking forwards tomorrow, hopefully no pressure from behind, but P7 and P8 to an extent is where we are at the moment,” Russell told Sky F1 after qualifying in Miami.

“I think the result we showed today was the maximum but I’m confident tomorrow. We will make a step forward to them.

“The fact is that the stopwatch doesn’t lie and we know that probably some of the changes we’ve made since the end of last year, perhaps overcompensated with some of the development items we did.

“We have limitations with the car now which is a totally different limitation to what we had this time 12 months ago.

“We did so much work to solve the problems, we’ve kind of gone too far in that direction – so we know we need to improve, and we need to improve quickly.”

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When asked if Mercedes know how to solve the new issues with which they find themselves, he responded: “Yeah, we definitely know how to.

“I think when we look at the data, we understand why we’re in the position we are right now.

“And as I said last year, when we look at the data, we understand why we were in that same position, and I think unfortunately, we’ve probably overcompensated to solve the problems of last year – and we’ve gone from this extreme to that extreme now.

“We need to sort of rewind and find ourselves sort of in a halfway house, but you know, when new upgrades take eight weeks to bring to the car, you learn this problem, race one, race two, you can’t just bring an upgrade to the next race.

“You’ve got to put in the wind tunnel, you’ve got to design it, someone’s got to draw it, someone’s got to build it, and then you’re halfway through the season.

“So I think that’s why it’s so difficult when you’re on the back foot to just suddenly make that progress and everybody expects it tomorrow.

“We want it tomorrow, trust me, but this is the reality of Formula 1.”

As for Hamilton, he qualified four hundredths slower than Russell on medium tyres in Q3, Mercedes opting to use the yellow-marked tyres which are in theory slower than the red-marked softs for their final runs.

Hamilton admitted it was “tough” to be so far off the outright pace and wondered if it was reflective of their true pace, but chose to look at the positives as well.

“Generally it’s been a much better day I would say I mean, we went forwards at least in the Sprint race, and then qualifying getting into Q3 which is a positive.

“Q3 wasn’t really great, but I’m grateful to have got into there, but for us to be eight tenths off is tough.

“Obviously, we were fighting the Haas, and I don’t really know if that’s the true speed of our car or whether it’s the tyres. I think there’s a lot in these tyres and we’ve just not been able to use them all yet.”

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