Mercedes: Fundamental changes for 2024 F1 car will not be blocked by cost cap

Mercedes says plans for a "fundamental" overhaul of its Formula 1 car for 2024 will not be held back by cost cap limitations.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23

The German manufacturer has been encouraged by a recent upgrade package to its W14 that appears to have helped it close the gap to the front.

However, the squad is well aware that wider changes are still needed for next year as elements of its current challenger are still far from perfect.

Such a significant step is not easy in F1’s cost cap era, with teams constantly having to juggle development spending against the strict financial limits.

But Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has revealed that his squad has implemented a thorough analysis of its cash flow, and says it is well on track to do what it wants for the W15 without needing to worry about over-spending.

“We have set up a huge organisation in our financial department of 46 people, that monitors the cost cap down to the last screw,” he explained.

“It follows the trend of spending during all of the year and what we've done is basically allocated resource to various projects.

“We stayed below that line all year last year, and we’ve stayed below that line this year. Considering a normal development switch for next year, this is still pretty much on track.

“The good thing is that we are constantly learning about what the car is doing. There are going to be some fundamental design changes for next year, but it's not that we're building stuff. It's more what are we simulating – and that is not measured in money. It’s teraflops or wind tunnel hours.”

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Hamilton urges characteristic tweaks

While Mercedes has unleashed some good performance gains from the W14, the team is well aware that there are some key areas that are lacking.

Lewis Hamilton pointed out after the Canadian Grand Prix that troublesome characteristics still have to be dialled out – which especially revolve around the weak rear end which has proved difficult to take in 2023.

“We struggle in the lower-speed corners particularly, and that's really where I was losing to Fernando [Alonso] and to Max [Verstappen] - just on traction out of Turn 2, out of pretty much every corner," he explained in Montreal.

“We've got a lot of work to do just to add rear downforce to the car and a little bit more efficiency. But we're chipping away.”

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Asked how different the W14 felt now with the upgrades, Hamilton said: “In truth, it doesn't feel a huge difference to the beginning of the year. There are some elements of the car which do feel different, but it's just simply having a little bit more downforce on the car.

“But the characteristics of the car are very, very similar to what we had earlier on in the year.

“For the next year's car, you need to take a lot of these different things off and change them. It's definitely not, characteristic-wise, the car that's going to be able to beat the Red Bull just yet. And so, we've got to work on that.”

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