[Mercedes not “clinging on” to current concepts for 2024 F1 car revamp
A one-second deficit to pole position man Max Verstappen in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix has exposed the major downforce deficit and balance struggles that Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have been battling with all season.
With it clear that both men want big changes for next year, Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin has explained that the squad is taking on board everything being said to make a leap forward for 2024.
“Lewis and George together are always giving us feedback on where the weakness is,” said Shovlin in Japan about the W14 car.
“And whilst they might be identifying different causes of it, we know that, fundamentally, the car doesn’t have enough stability.
“We know that they don’t have the confidence to just throw it into a high-speed corner, and not have some concern that the rear is going to slide more than they want and be a bit of a challenge.
“Whilst you might see different comments in the press, the two of them are very aligned on where the weaknesses are, and where we need to improve it. We can see the GPS from other cars and that all ties in. So, you can build a picture of where you need to develop.
“And we’re certainly not clinging on to any concepts that we have had before. We’re very open-minded. We’ve had a pretty chastening couple of years, and we are a team that’s working very hard to try and get back to the front.”
George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14
Photo by: Jake Grant / Motorsport Images
Work is advanced on Mercedes’ 2024 challenger, which the team hopes can help deliver the major step forward in pace that can make it a match for Red Bull.
Shovlin said it was too early to know whether or not the W15 design was producing what the team hoped for, but the squad was not shying away from the hard work that it needed to put in.
“We are changing the car quite considerably for next year, but whether or not we can solve all the issues that we’ve got on the handling, that will depend on a number of projects delivering,” he said.
“Those projects are underway and they’re not complete. We’ve got some good directions to try and improve that.
“The car will be different. We’ve made a lot of changes to it, but it’s very early in the development of a new car to be able to say, we’ve got it sorted.”
Shovlin said it was almost impossible for a team to know in advance just how much better a car was against the opposition, as even some of its most dominant machinery of previous years had missed performance targets it set.
“When we launched our best cars in 2015 or 2019, those years, we didn’t know that they were going to be great cars when we developed them,” he explained.
“We were just working as hard as we can try to find as much performance as we can. On a lot of those cars, we missed targets by quite a chunk in terms of performance.
“But if you don’t set very ambitious targets, you’re probably not setting them high enough.”