Mercedes still making big strides despite 2024 F1 focus - Shovlin

Mercedes is taking “strides” with the development of its 2023 Formula 1 car even though the team’s “entire focus” is on challenging Red Bull next season, according to Andrew Shovlin.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG, with Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director, Mercedes-AMG

For the Dutch Grand Prix last weekend, Mercedes equipped its W14 machine with a revised floor edge, sidepod inlet and beam wing - all devised to chiefly improve performance at the rear of the car.

In part, the arrival of these new components is to help sustain the team for the eight non-European races at the end of the season, for which the costs of freighting upgrades are considerably higher.

Despite 13 of the scheduled 22 rounds now having run, and with teams placing increasing emphasis on developing next year’s car, Mercedes is finding more aerodynamic performance with the W14.

Trackside engineering director Shovlin said: “I think we're making reasonable strides in development still.

“But it's still a busy period of the year because the teams are trying to get the packages on the car that are going to take them through that flyaway region. I think it will all slow down in the relatively near future.

“But we have made some pretty significant changes to the design of the car, and that's actually opening up a bit of performance aerodynamically. So, we are still finding good performance on the W14.”

Shovlin clarified that none of the new parts could be directly linked to George Russell qualifying third at Zandvoort as the driver said he had bounced back from a difficult run of one-lap form.

George Russell, Mercedes W14

George Russell, Mercedes W14

Photo by: Erik Junius

He also countered the suggestion from Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, who feared that dominant force Red Bull could not be caught during the current rules cycle that runs until 2026.

Shovlin instead said that the “entire focus” of Mercedes was on challenging Red Bull from as soon as next year, with the team allocating resources to 2024 since the cost cap meant it could no longer spend its way to success in the shorter term.

“We certainly don't think like [Leclerc] because our ambition is to be challenging for a championship next year,” said Shovlin. “We're optimistic that we can do that.

“We're still understanding a lot about these regulations.

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“What we would say, though, is where we work with this car and in the constraints of the cost cap, we realise we're not going to be able to shut down that gap to Red Bull this year.

“But our entire focus is on making sure we can challenge them next year.”

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