Mercedes technical director James Allison has warned the team against falling into a “victim complex” in their efforts to return to title-winning contention in the F1 2024 season.
Despite pipping Ferrari to second place in the Constructors’ standings, Mercedes suffered their first winless season in 12 years in 2023 with drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell occasionally struggling to hide their frustration with the team’s situation.
Having retained the divisive zero-pod concept for the start of the season, the team decided to abandon the design after just one race with Mercedes making only marginal progress after a heavily revised W14 debuted in Monaco.
Mercedes determined to prove doubters wrong in F1 2024
Although Max Verstappen eased to a third successive title in 2023, winning a record 19 races, Mercedes remain hopeful of challenging Red Bull with the new-look W15 car in 2024.
Appearing on the Performance People podcast, Allison has revealed the doubters in the media are driving Mercedes in their mission to recapture their former glories next year.
But he has warned members of the team to avoid becoming despondent after two largely mediocre seasons, reiterating his belief that Mercedes have all the ingredients required to return to F1’s summit.
Asked if a siege mentality can be beneficial to Mercedes entering 2024, he said: “I think the sense that we’re all in this together and that people have written our future for us – ‘the once-great team now in decline’ – all of the negative narrative that can come around with that.
“As long as, internally, we’re saying: ‘Let them say that.’
“That’s their job, they’ve got to say something. But our job is to show them they’re wrong.
“And imagine how good that’s going to feel, when they’ve all been looking sympathetically at us – or with faux sympathy in our direction.
“We’ll just suck that up and go: ‘Okay, right, we’re going to work on this and we’re going to come back and we’re going to show them.’
“That is definitely a galvanising thing, as long as it doesn’t spill over into a negative, victim complex and it’s more just the cheerful application of the skill in this place to come out and surprise people.
“We’re not going to go quietly into the night and, actually, this is a place full of extraordinary talent and people who have got absolutely everything they need in their head, their character and the equipment we have here at the factory to be resilient to this and show that we can rebuild and produce a car that is deservedly at the front once more.”
Allison’s comments come after he revealed earlier this month that the team aim to be in “with a shout” of winning both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ titles in 2024, having established a “pretty ambitious program” for the W15 car.
Asked if Mercedes can return to winning ways in 2024 or are likely to require more time, he said: “‘I don’t know,’ is the answer to that.
“I hope that we have put in place enough of a program of work that we have put ourselves in with a shout to be back to [competitiveness].
“[When you say] ‘winning ways’, does that mean winning a race? Does that mean winning a Championship?
“In my head, it’s only ever about Championships. That’s what Formula 1 is: it’s a Constructors’ and a Drivers’ Championship.
“I hope that we have done enough to give ourselves a shout of being in a Championship fight in both Championships.
“If you look at the long march of F1 history, then the stats are against us. Teams do not bounce back from slipping from their previous peak in the length of time that we have set ourselves.
“But we have nevertheless set a pretty ambitious program. We have quite a lot of strength in depth here and we’ve made quite a lot of progress with next year’s car.
“Whether it proves sufficient or not, only time will tell, but that’s what I’m hoping for us and I know that all my colleagues and team-mates around me will be hoping for the same.”
We’ve been shortlisted as a finalist in the 2024 Sports Podcast Awards! Your votes would be much appreciated and you can head here to cast. Thank you!