Mercedes warned of ‘disastrous’ conclusion should struggles spill over into F1 2024

Jamie Woodhouse
George Russell racing on track during the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

George Russell on track for Mercedes.

Should Mercedes fail to improve their fortunes in F1 2024, six-time grands prix winner Ralf Schumacher says that would be confirmation that they can no longer build a top car, “disastrous” for the brand.

Mercedes head into F1 2024 with a major point to prove, as they look to put two difficult seasons behind them by returning to the World Championship scene, having gone winless in the 2023 campaign.

The challenge awaiting them is stern, as Red Bull prepare to unveil the successor to their RB19 which claimed a remarkable 21 of the 22 grands prix victories in 2023, 19 of those going to Max Verstappen who became a three-time World Championship.

Ralf Schumacher: F1 2024 struggles would be ‘disastrous‘ for Mercedes

Mercedes are battling to show that they can still reach their past title-winning heights, having reeled off a record-breaking eight Constructors’ titles in a row between 2014-21, despite various key figures of those glory days since departing, including design guru Aldo Costa, engine chief Andy Cowell, strategy chief James Vowles and chief technical officer Mike Elliott.

And Schumacher says time is of the essence, as a continuation of these tougher times would confirm that Mercedes no longer has the personnel to design F1’s top challenger.

“Mercedes has to get its act together as quickly as possible, there’s no question about it,” Schumacher told the German Press Agency, as per Nordbayerischer Kurier. “If not, that would mean continuous weakness.

“[It would] mean that they obviously no longer understand how to build a car capable of winning. And that would be disastrous for a brand like Mercedes and with its successes in recent years.”

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has teased a “more conventional” design for their F1 2024 challenger, the W15, hinting at a further migration towards the dominant Red Bull concept.

But, while the vibe from the Red Bull camp is that they expect the competition to grow stronger in the upcoming season, Schumacher nonetheless believes that the Austrian outfit will have “something surprising” up their sleeve to “amaze one or two people” in F1 2024, so “there is relatively little to suggest that Max Verstappen and Red Bull will not continue their dominance.” recommends

Ranked: Every Mercedes car since the Silver Arrows returned to F1

F1 2024 driver salaries revealed: Who are the highest-paid drivers on the grid?

Recently Red Bull’s design chief Adrian Newey admitted to feeling trepidation regarding their F1 2024 challenger, the RB20, as he waits to see how a further “evolution” of their so far dominant concept stacks up against rivals, with Mercedes and Ferrari teasing new routes.

“Our car will be very much a third evolution of the ’22 car,” he said on Red Bull’s ‘Talking Bull’ podcast.

“So last year’s car was an evolution of the ’22 in the main points being the normal winter development in terms of aerodynamics, some understanding of what we need to do with the suspension to try to improve the car as well, and getting weight out of it because we never got down to the weight limits in ’22.

“This year’s car is the third evolution of that original RB18. Now, what we don’t know, of course, is [whether] the third evolution is too conservative while others have done something different. You just don’t know.

“It’s a difficult one. This is that [question] of whether we should have a group that goes out and looks at completely left-field ideas. Or do we keep developing the route we’ve taken?

“We’re resource-limited. So we can’t do everything, and can’t look at every avenue. So we’ve taken the approach of developing what we’ve got. Hopefully, that’ll be the prudent thing.”

F1 2024 will be the final season for Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton to add a further title success to their iconic partnership, with Hamilton having agreed to join Ferrari for 2025.

Read next: F1 2024’s biggest dark horse? One team could shake up F1 pecking order