Mercedes reveal three ‘initial conclusions’ from first W15 laps in Bahrain

Jamie Woodhouse
Mercedes on track in Bahrain, with George Russell at the wheel.

George Russell drives the Mercedes W15.

While Mercedes wait to find out where behind Red Bull they will settle in the pecking order, team principal Toto Wolff gave a positive verdict on testing with the W15 proving far better to drive and crucially matching their data.

After two seasons out of the title picture, Mercedes has changed course with the design of their W15, a more conventional look yet with significant innovation on the front wing, in the hope of unlocking the door that returns them to championship contention.

And armed with three days of Bahrain testing under their belts, Mercedes has been able to share some encouraging findings on that front.

Mercedes drivers ‘much happier’ with W15

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell were often left frustrated with Mercedes’ previous challengers in this ground effect era, the W13 and W14, neither particularly pleasant to drive and sporting a painfully narrow and unpredictable operating window, but it seems the W15 has bucked that trend.

On the eve of the F1 2024 season opener in Bahrain, Wolff reported that Hamilton and Russell are “much happier” with the balance of the W15, while this challenger is on-track doing what Mercedes’ simulations said it should, this having been another confusing issue with the 2022/23 cars.

“A new season brings new opportunity and it’s exciting to be heading into a new campaign with all the drama it will inevitably bring,” said Wolff.

“Each of the last two seasons, we’ve headed to the first race of the year on the back foot. There was inherent goodness in the W13 and W14, but it often proved too difficult to unlock. They were inconsistent machines.

“Our main aim going into 2024 therefore was clear: create a consistent and stable platform. A car that would react as we expected. One that the drivers could consistently push. And one that we can develop throughout the year, in the knowledge that we are bringing real-world performance to the track.

“Over these first two races, we will get a much better understanding of the job we have done.

“After pre-season testing though, we can draw some initial conclusions. The drivers are much happier with the overall balance. The basic platform is working as we expected. The correlation to our simulations looks to be accurate. This is all encouraging. It’s a good foundation that we can build on.”

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While Ferrari set the overall pace of testing, those three days in Bahrain are never the most accurate guide to where the fastest challenger resides, with Wolff saying that focus on the W15 can now switch to performance as the Bahrain International Circuit hosts the opening round of the season.

A general consensus formed after testing that Red Bull are out front again with their unique RB20, a theory supported by Wolff, who expects Mercedes to land somewhere in the pursuing pack.

“Our focus at the test was on learning about the car we have,” Wolff continued. “Our attention can now turn to tuning performance for the Bahrain race weekend.

“Red Bull, as is to be expected, look to be at the head of the field. The chasing pack looks tight. We will soon get an idea of where we stack up in that. And the task that is ahead of us to close the gap to the front.

“Wherever we net out though, the whole team is relishing the challenge ahead. There is a palpable sense of energy running through the factories and those trackside. The year ahead is long. There will be many ups, along with the inevitable downs. But this is why we love racing. And now, we can’t wait to get going.”

F1 2024 will mark Hamilton’s final season as a Mercedes driver ahead of his move to Ferrari.

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