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F1 2024 team preview: Will Mercedes make a comeback in Formula 1?

Published at :February 7, 2024 at 2:11 PM
Modified at :February 7, 2024 at 2:11 PM
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Arpit Anand

The Silver Arrows finished 2nd in the constructor’s champions last season

Mercedes, once a dominant force in Formula 1, is gearing up for the 2024 season after a challenging period. The team faced its first winless season since 2011, grappling with the introduction of ground effects for the cars. The past two years saw a significant shake-up, with personnel changes and a shift in car development strategies.

In 2023, Mercedes climbed from P3 to P2, showing signs of improvement. The big question now is: What can we expect from Mercedes in 2024?

However, the most recent development has sent shockwaves through the F1 community – Lewis Hamilton, the seven-time world champion, is set to leave Mercedes at the end of the 2024 season. This unexpected announcement adds a new layer of intrigue to Mercedes’ prospects for the upcoming season.

Adapting to Red Bull’s Concept

One promising aspect for Mercedes is the shift in its car development approach. Last season, McLaren and Aston Martin made notable progress by adopting the Red Bull car concept early on. Mercedes, however, stuck with the unreliable zero sidepod concept, realizing its mistake too late in the game.

While upgrades brought them closer to Red Bull’s concept, the rigid suspension structure limited overall adaptation. With the news of Hamilton’s departure, the team may reassess its development strategy to better suit the driving style of the incoming driver, creating further uncertainty about their approach.

Driver Dynamics

The departure of Lewis Hamilton, a central figure in Mercedes’ recent successes, raises questions about the team’s driver dynamics. The battle between Hamilton and George Russell, who is set to replace him, adds an intriguing dimension.

The drivers have traded blows over the last two years, with Russell having the edge in 2022 and Hamilton bouncing back in 2023. The 2024 season could see another close contest, with potential flashpoints as Russell asserts himself within the team. While the championship might not be at stake, the drivers will aim for the best possible results.

A Technical Revamp

Mercedes, aiming to recover from a winless streak since 2011, went through a  comprehensive transformation for the 2024 season. In an earlier interview, Toto Wolff, cautiously optimistic, revealed that “almost every component” of the W15 will be changed, marking a departure from their previous design philosophy.

The team faced challenges with the ‘zero-sidepod’ approach, leading to two seasons of relative decline. Red Bull’s dominance in 2023 pushed Mercedes to reevaluate its strategy. Despite finishing P2 in the constructors’ championship, a massive 451-point gap behind Red Bull necessitated a significant overhaul.

Wolff emphasized that with the right car, Hamilton has the potential to fiercely contend for World Championships.

James Allison’s return as technical director adds experience to the team. However, these changes come later than some rivals, potentially putting Mercedes at a disadvantage.

Predicting the Pecking Order

Determining Mercedes’ position in the pecking order is crucial. The switch in car concept could either temporarily disadvantage them or position them as Red Bull’s primary rival. Closing the gap with Red Bull might be a realistic goal, but a title challenge could be wishful thinking given the significant gap last season.

The departure of Hamilton further complicates predictions, as the team will need to quickly adapt to Russell’s preferences to maintain competitiveness.

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