‘When will this car come good?’ – Ted Kravitz’s ‘slower than slow’ Mercedes W15 verdict

Michelle Foster
Toto Wolff speaking to Ted Kravitz in the paddock.

Toto Wolff speaking to Ted Kravitz

Decrying the W15 as “slower than slow” at the Japanese Grand Prix, Ted Kravitz has questioned whether Mercedes will eventually unlock performance in their 2024 F1 car.

Three years into F1’s ground-effect aerodynamic era and Mercedes are no closer to toppling Red Bull than they were in year one, in fact, this year they’ve lost ground.

‘When will this car come good, I ask myself’

Four races into this season, the Brackley squad are in the midst of a Mercedes-customer sandwich in the standings with McLaren 35 points ahead in third place and Aston Martin a point behind in fifth. Mercedes’ deficit to Red Bull is up to 107 points.

That had motorsport boss Toto Wolff conceding that Mercedes are in a battle for “best of the rest” with Max Verstappen unstoppable.

He added that looking at it “from a purely sporting point of view, P1 is what matters, not P2, P3 or P4”, but that is the “reality” Mercedes are facing today.

It’s a reality that Wolff is hoping to change sooner rather than later with George Russell seventh in Japan and Lewis Hamilton ninth.

Although the latter felt after qualifying that Mercedes had achieved a breakthrough with the set-up of the W15, after the race he said the car in general was just “pretty bad”.

Kravitz called it “slower than slow”, especially on the hard Pirelli tyres.

“It was not a good day,” the Sky Sports pit lane reporter said in his post-Japan Notebook. “When will this car come good, I ask myself.

“Lewis Hamilton was ninth, George Russell seventh. Neither lost any positions at the start, but both went to the hard tyre for the restart – the second start after the Alex Albon-Daniel Ricardo crash – and were really slower than slow things on that tyre.

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“Hamilton was at a loss to explain quite why he was so slow. Then George overtook him. Lewis thought there might be damage, car damage, picked up some understeer after a little coming together early on…

“I mean they were both slower than slow, Lewis particularly and somewhat at a loss to explain it and not happy with the car’s performance.

“They both abandoned the one-stop. They had an option to do the one-stop, it wasn’t working, and they both abandoned it and went on two stops.”

He pointed out that Mercedes once again lost to their customers with both drivers behind Lando Norris and Fernando Alonso while Hamilton was also behind Oscar Piastri.

“With Fernando Alonso ahead of them in the Aston, Mercedes-powered, both McLarens ahead of them, well not Oscar Piastri because George took him but Lando Norris ahead of both of them in the Mercedes-powered McLaren.

“We’ll see whether China will change their fortunes,” he added.

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