Mercedes F1 details crucial build-up and deadline period for W15


With less than a month go before the start of pre-season testing in Bahrain, F1 teams are working around the clock to prepare their cars for the upcoming season, and like its rivals Mercedes is in the trenches.

After facing the challenge of designing a W15 contender that it hopes will bridge the gap to Red Bull and then some, the Brackley squad’s crews are now in the process of manufacturing their promising machine.

Mercedes says its success during this busy period is underpinned by its values and behaviors. The German outfit has worked hard to develop a strong team culture that allows them to work together effectively under pressure.

Each department is expert in its field, but they all rely on each other to deliver a successful car. There is a strong emphasis on trust and respect, and problems are always solved quickly and efficiently.

Mercedes F1 chief operating officer Rob Thomas shed some light on what is going behind the scenes during this most intense period of the year.

“There are literally thousands and thousands of components arriving, going through inspection and levels of testing,” Thomas explained in an interview on the team’s website.

“Then they’re built into various sub-assemblies for the Test and Development department, who’ll put them through tests for fatigue, reliability and performance.”

“It’s a really intense time for people in the factory because these departments are operating on shift patterns 24/7. People show huge levels of commitment.

“There’s so much going on and everything must come together for these deadlines.

“It’s crucial at this time of year to stick to the timeframes and leave no stone unturned. We know that’s what’s required to put us in the best condition to go testing and racing.

“Otherwise, we’ll find problems further down the line that have a much bigger impact. We’re always trying to find that balance between speed and quality.”


Although Mercedes is a well-oiled machine in terms of its production and manufacturing functions, optimizing its processes has been a long-term undertaking.

“We’ve worked hard for years on behaviours in the team and making sure we have a defined set of values.

“It’s really this time of year where it comes together, everyone is in [the factories] and each department is an expert in what they do.

“But to deliver the car, it relies on every department interacting so closely together. Everything is done respectfully, but very fast. There’s a line of trust in each area. There’s never finger-pointing.

“If anyone has an issue, they’ll fix it and if they need help, they’ll come and ask.”

Mercedes F1 Chief Operating Officer Rob Thomas.

As a long-standing member of the Mercedes outfit who arrived at Brackley in 2010, Thomas has always recalled the December-January period as the busiest. However, in the past deadlines were often exceeded.

“There were detailed plans, but they weren’t really respected,” he says. “A lot of internal dates were a bit optional, and we’d do our best to hit those deadlines, but generally we didn’t.

“Things got later and later and what you ended up was people working in a chaotic firefighting way, trying to get parts together.

“We wouldn’t get either the result we needed from performance or reliability either. That all leads to going to the first races in a massively sub-optimal condition, not getting the learning you want and leading to people being burnt out.”


Over time, strong leadership from the engineering and operational areas has helped address the challenges faced by Mercedes. The team is now in a position to meet deadlines while prioritizing the well-being of its personnel.

Needless to say, pre-season testing is critical for F1’s competitors as it provides everyone with their only opportunity to gather valuable data before the racing season begins gets underway.

The Mercedes F1 team is confident that with the hard work of its employees and its strong team culture, it will be able to turn around its fortunes after enduring two consecutive seasons of struggles.

Mercedes will unveil its W15 at Silverstone on February 14.

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