Beloved Mercedes team overlooked as ex-employee sides with rival team

Michelle Foster
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen leads ahead of Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton.

Max Verstappen leading for Red Bull.

Former Mercedes man Nick Fry has written off the Brackley squad’s 2024 title challenge, instead saying Ferrari are the “favourites” to push Red Bull.

Last season Red Bull had the measure of their rivals as the Milton Keynes squad won 21 of 22 Grands Prix with Max Verstappen taking 19 of those as the team romped to the championship double.

But while Ferrari was the only team to beat Red Bull on a Sunday, Carlos Sainz P1 at the Singapore Grand Prix, they shared the ‘best of the rest’ tag with Aston Martin, Mercedes, and McLaren as the momentum behind Red Bull shifted throughout the season.

Nick Fry backs McLaren and Ferrari to ‘improve’

It was McLaren who of the four hopefuls was the most improved during the season as they put a B-spec car on the track at the Austrian Grand Prix and went from scoring 17 points in the first eight rounds to finishing with a tally of 302.

It has Fry, Mercedes’ former Chief Executive Officer, putting McLaren up as one to watch this season.

“I believe that McLaren will continue to improve. I hope they’re in a position to win races. I’m not sure if they’re good enough to consistently beat Red Bull or Ferrari yet… I think that’s a stretch,” he declared to

“McLaren have to be realistic about their evolution. They’ve got a very experienced boss in Andrea Stella who is calm, sensible and understands the step a team needs to go through to win.

“Some of the investments made at Mercedes, like the world-class wind tunnel, were done in my day. The wind tunnel was built in around 2005 or 2006, so it has been contributing for a very long time. McLaren are starting to invest in some of those facilities, but it should have happened a long time ago.

“Instead of having Norman Foster design their building, they could have invested in better engineering equipment! That was the decision made a long time ago and fortunately the McLaren owners have understood and have invested in those things now. They will be a good investment for the future.

“I have my fingers crossed for them this season, but it’s a stretch to believe they can beat Red Bull. I think they’ll still dominate.”

Red Bull, though, will face competition from Ferrari, says the 67-year-old. recommends

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“I think Ferrari will continue to improve,” he said, citing new team boss Fred Vasseur’s influence.

“Vasseur is very experienced as a team leader, and I think he’ll provide the air cover from the pressures of the Italian media. I think he’ll do a good job with that and keep the team calm. You have to be fairly unemotional.”

Nick Fry ‘can’t see’ Mercedes consistently beating Red Bull

As for Mercedes, Fry does not believe the Brackley squad has the technical team of yesteryear having lost key personnel to Red Bull while last year Mike Elliott parted ways with the team after a disappointing start to the season.

“I’m sorry to say this, but I don’t see the technical team as strong enough at my former team, Mercedes. Competing with Adrian Newey’s team is a tall order,” was Fry’s assessment.

“They’re a great team of people, but they’ve fallen so far behind by taking a different technical route. The rate of improvement is significant year upon year, but spending a year or two with a different concept that doesn’t work results in trouble.

“It’s easy to say that in hindsight, but they’re learning what the likes of Red Bull learned a long time ago. It’s difficult to catch up. I’m sure they’ll be good, but I’m not sure if they’ll be exceptional.

“I can’t see Mercedes consistently beating Red Bull. It’s hard for me to admit as I have such a deep attachment to them, but I think it’s going to be difficult this year.”

Summing it up, he concluded: “Ferrari would be my favourites to push Red Bull. My eight-year-old daughter has a strong preference for Charles Leclerc, and she said I had to say Ferrari!”

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