Russell: Mercedes ‘won’t stumble at first hurdle’ in 2024


George Russell believes that the sum of all the learnings garnered by Mercedes in the past two seasons have put the team on the right development path for 2024, ensuring that it won’t “stumble at the first hurdle” next year.

After last year’s innovative but ill-fated zero sidepod concept on its W13 silver arrow left it with little to show for its efforts – save for a single win achieved in Brazil thanks to Russell – Mercedes only marginally improved its position in F1’s pecking order.

The Brackley squad, which is currently second in F1’s Constructors’ standings, has performed better this season, or at least slightly more consistently.

However, its W14 contender remains a tricky proposition even in the expert hands of Lewis Hamilton and Russell, while its deficit to Red Bull’s dominant RB19 is equally significant.

But amid the struggles, Mercedes is working hard to set things right for next season, its engineers relying on the vast knowledge, data and experience accumulated since 2022 to convincingly set the team’s new development direction for 2024, as Russell explained.

“We have 12 months' further information, direction, and we’ve managed to implement some of these changes we want for 2024, in certain tests, so far this year that work as we anticipate,” Russell said in Brazil recently.

“The work that we’re putting into 2024, we’ve been a lot more thorough with our assessment of every single decision.

“The car was nowhere close to where we wanted it to be for the last season [2022]. And we felt a lot needed to change [for 2023].

“We perhaps rushed a couple of decisions without thoroughly testing out the simulator, going through the potential consequences. And we were just trying so many different things.”

Russell believes that Mercedes – backed by its learnings – has worked more carefully and meticulously than ever before to ensure that it delivers a design worthy of fighting at the front in 2024.

“It was more quantity over quality testing last year,” added Russell. “Whereas this year, we’ve really nailed down on the direction we want to go, we’ve thoroughly tested that process to kind of triple check this is the direction we’re taking.

“I’m confident 12 months later, we’ve now got two years’ worth of learning, I hope we’re not going to be caught out by anything going into next year.

“This doesn’t mean that we’re going to have the fastest car on the grid. It just means I don’t think we’re going to stumble at the first hurdle.”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff labeled the team’s Brazilian display last time out his worst weekend ever in F1. But the Austrian said that his outfit’s dismal performance at Interlagos had at least validated the team’s decision to follow a different course in 2024.

“At least we know it confirms that the trajectory of changing fundamentally is right,” Wolff explained.

“Last year, we came out of an Interlagos weekend, where you're absolutely demolishing your competition Saturday and Sunday, and that was like: are we doing the right thing by continuing with the chassis that we have?

“Now it is pretty clear. This feels horrible for the whole team. And I wish we could start the new season and concentrate on the new car.”

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