Mercedes expecting ‘less spiteful – more friendly’ W15 rear end

© XPB 

Mercedes say they’re  feeling a blend of conflicting emotions regarding their expectations for 2024, but tech boss James Allison has high hopes for a “happier handling" W15 contender this season.

Mercedes, seeking to reclaim their position as F1's dominant force, has been working tirelessly on a comprehensive car overhaul, the W15, which they hope will propel Lewis Hamilton and George Russell to the top of the championship standings this season.

Earlier this week, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff revealed that early simulator reports had been positive for the Brackley squad’s 2024 machine.

Allison has followed up with a cautious dose of optimism, indicating that Mercedes believes that it has made gains in terms of handling capabilities. However, the Briton is still keeping his confidence in check.

“It's impossible at this time of year to be anything other than apprehensive, coupled with excited, coupled with frightened,” Allison said, quoted by

“Those are always the emotions that you feel, and I would imagine that even in Red Bull, after a year of such good performance, they will not be sleeping easy in their beds either because no one knows what everyone else will deliver.

“However, what we do have some hope for is that some of the more spiteful characteristics of the rear end of our car will be a bit more friendly to us, and the handling of the car a happier thing.

“That's all in simulation, but nevertheless we’ve got reasonable grounds to believe that we've made some gain there.”
But Allison also alludes to advances in terms of downforce and engine power.

“On top of that [handling], you've got all the normal housekeeping type stuff of just making it lighter, making it more downforcy and hopefully getting a bit of uplift from the power unit side, with the calibration level tinkering that they're still capable of doing under these current rules,” he added.

“Whether it's enough, time will tell. But it's nevertheless going to be interesting because we saw some things we knew were problems.

“We have hypothesized what the reason for those problems were, and we fixed those reasons. It will be interesting to find out how accurate we've been with that diagnosis.”

While Mercedes is banking on its own significant progress to carry it forward this season, Allison suggests that F1’s ground effect rules, now in their third season, may not hold as much scope for development as many believe, which should play into the hands of Red Bull’s rivals.

“We hope we've done a good job with the new car, and we hope we've addressed some of the shortcomings that were so publicly on display with it last year,” he said.

“There is also just a little bit that nestles in the back of our heads, which is that the rules themselves have a much more sort of clear upper bound to them in the amount of lap time these cars are capable of producing.

“It’s a much more clear upper bound to them than the older generation of cars, which the more love you gave them and the more labour you put into them, the faster they got, seemingly without end.

“I think if you look at last year you see from the start of the season to the end of the season, although Red Bull's dominance was near complete and they didn't look vulnerable even to the last race of the year, if you look at the bigger picture, this is a grid that is gradually compressing.”

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter