While Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is taking any optimism very cautiously, he has been told by simulator driver Anthony Davidson that the W15 “feels like a car”, unlike its predecessors.
Mercedes has endured a tough couple of campaigns since the Formula 1 rulebook was re-written in time for 2022 to introduce ground effect challengers, with the once-dominant Silver Arrows struggling to lay a glove on the trophy-hogging Red Bull team since.
2023 was a particularly bitter pill to swallow as Mercedes went the entire year without a victory, the first time since 2011 that had happened, but it is hoped that a new-look W15 will put them back in the title fight for F1 2024. The early signs are promising.
Mercedes F1 2024 car feels like one ‘for first time in two years’
Speaking to the Telegraph, Wolff was able to share information passed on to him by Mercedes’ simulator driver, former F1 racer Anthony Davidson.
And it was definitely positive, with the W15 showing the potential of being a far-improved challenger.
“He was driving Melbourne [in the sim],” said Wolff of Davidson.
“And he said: ‘The car feels like a car for the first time in two years…’”
Wolff is not getting carried away just yet though, with the memories of those rough 2023 and 2022 campaigns still too fresh for that.
“Obviously I would love this to correlate to the track, but we’ve seen in the last two years that this was not always the case,” Wolff admitted.
Nonetheless, the battle to get Mercedes back to the F1 summit is one that Wolff is very much up for, as in the same interview, it was confirmed that he has signed a three-year contract extension to continue as Mercedes’ F1 chief.
Wolff still feels like he is the best person for the job, as does his Mercedes F1 team co-owners, INEOS and Daimler, so the decision to carry on was a logical one.
“I think the most important thing between the three of us is that we trust each other,” said Wolff, referring to INEOS boss Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Mercedes chairman Ola Källenius.
“At the end of the day, as a shareholder myself, I want the best return on investment. And the best return on investment is winning.
“I’m not going to try to hang on to a position that I think somebody is going to do better than me. I make sure that I have people around who can tell me otherwise. In the end the three of us decided: ‘Let’s do it again’.”
Wolff has been at the helm for Mercedes since 2013, following his switch from the Williams team where he was formerly a shareholder.