James Allison has claimed it is “lots of fun” trying to hunt down the dominant Red Bull team as work continues on the new Mercedes W15 car for the F1 2024 season.
Mercedes won a record eight Constructors’ titles from the start of F1’s V6 hybrid era in 2014, but have been restricted to just a single race victory since the ground effect regulations were introduced in 2022.
Red Bull produced the most dominant season in history last year, winning all but one of the 22 races as Max Verstappen eased to a third successive World Championship.
Will the Mercedes W15 be a Red Bull beater?
Despite Red Bull’s current position at the sport’s summit, Mercedes remain hopeful of returning to title contention in 2024 with the W15, which is expected to be a significant departure from the team’s last two designs.
Allison has dismissed the notion that Mercedes are frustrated by their current predicament, claiming there is joy to be had in the process of returning the team to winning ways.
And he has paid tribute to Red Bull for sticking together during the tricky times, with many of Verstappen’s colleagues – including team principal Christian Horner, F1’s longest-serving team principal – involved in Red Bull’s previous dominant spell with Sebastian Vettel between 2010 and 2013.
As quoted by Motorsport.com, he said: “Actually, it’s lots of fun.
“It isn’t as much fun as winning, that’s definitely true, but you have to love the whole of the sport. It involves taking your licks when you haven’t done a good enough job.
“I think one of the things to admire about Red Bull’s current performance is that they stuck gamely to their task in quite a long period in the wilderness.
“They are now enjoying the fruits of that well-placed labour. It’s far from unenjoyable being in that position, as long as the team is collectively confident that it’s making the right moves to try to re-establish itself as a force to be reckoned with. There’s loads and loads of fun to be had in that.
“It’s always a rollercoaster of getting your hopes up, being slapped down a bit by the racing gods and then gathering your skirts again to have another push.
“I hope that that journey upwards is steep and strong and secure, but it will be great fun trying to drive it at whatever pace we can to give our rivals a good old fight.”
Despite previously stating that Mercedes aim to be “in with a shout” of winning both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ titles in 2024 after establishing a “pretty ambitious program” with the W15, Allison refused to get carried away regarding the team’s prospects for the new season.
He said: “I don’t think any team has ever been anything other than apprehensive at this time of year, alongside excited or whatever.
“You’d have to be psychotic to be bullishly confident because you only know one side of the equation, which is what you’ve done.
“There have been years where you run a car for the first time and the drivers [have] got out and said: ‘Well, spend your bonus. This is a brilliant one.’
“But even then, you don’t really believe it until you get to the track and start using it in anger and everyone else is alongside you.”