Mercedes’ 2024 single-seater will be “very different” from the current W14 driven by Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, with the German manufacturer’s main goal for next year’s campaign being to get back into contention for a ninth F1 world title.
Mercedes, currently second in the Constructors’ Championship, had a complicated start to the season with a car featuring the ‘Zeropod’ aero concept inherited from last season’s defunct W13, which proved to be a very poor strategic choice for the German manufacturer’s team.
W13: Cul-de-Sac of a car
From the moment it was unveiled, the 2022 W13 caught the attention of fans and experts alike. The F1 community expected that Mercedes, with its track record of success, would present another car capable of challenging for the title. However, as the season progressed, it became clear that the W13 was not the formidable beast everyone had expected.
It lacked raw pace, was not as aerodynamically efficient as its rivals, and had reliability issues that were a stark departure from the team’s usual reliability standards.
While other teams were able to adapt quickly and efficiently to these new guidelines, Mercedes seemed to struggle with integrating them into the design of the W13. The changes, designed to reduce aerodynamic downforce and place greater emphasis on mechanical grip, somehow caught Mercedes off guard, a rarity in itself given their meticulous planning and design ethos.
W13 concept carried over into 2023
Against much expectation, this year saw Mercedes continue on with the W13 aero concept, rather than start over from scratch. A move that saw a return to many of the problems the 2022 car had before being ironed out.
The W14’s performance improved markedly from the Monaco Grand Prix, when Mercedes introduced its first major aero package and finally abandoned the ‘zero pod’ concept, but Red Bull had already taken a commanding lead in the championship and sealed the 2023 Constructors’ title at the Japanese Grand Prix.
Next years’ car ‘completely different’
But after making great strides this year, Mercedes now know where to go with the development of their 2024 single-seater, which will be “different” to the current W14, according to the team’s technical chief.
“We’re changing the car significantly for next year,” confirmed Mercedes engineering boss Andrew Shovlin, as quoted by Speedcafé.
“Can we or can’t we solve all the problems we have in terms of driving? Well, that will depend on the completion of a number of projects”.
“These projects are ongoing and they’re not complete. But we have good guidelines to try and improve all of that.”
“The car will be different [from the W14] because we’ve made a lot of changes to it, but it’s a bit early in the development of the new car to say that we’ve solved the problems.”
“When we launched our best cars in 2015 and 2019, in those years we didn’t know how great the cars were going to be when we were developing them. You just work as hard as you can and try to find as much performance as you can.”
“With a lot of those cars, we largely missed our targets in terms of performance, but what we know is that if you don’t set yourself ambitious targets, you probably never set them high enough.”
Although Red Bull have already wrapped up the Constructors’ Championship this season, Mercedes cannot afford to let their guard down, with Scuderia Ferrari just 20 points behind them and clearly targeting second place in the team standings.
MORE F1 NEWS: SKY TV Formula One future in doubt
Bernie Ecclestone was in many ways a visionary as he galvanised the Formula One teams to form a collective back known as the Formula One Teams Association (FOCA) back in 1974.
As the Brabham owner he realised the teams needed to stop fighting each other and band together if they were to receive an improved financial remuneration from the various commercial entities making some money from…READ MORE ON THIS STORY