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Russell: Mercedes' 2024 F1 car won't be as rushed as last year

George Russell says he is confident Mercedes will not fall into car design “traps” with its 2024 Formula 1 challenger, as it did with the “little bit rushed” W14 design.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Mercedes made a surprise call to continue with its ‘zeropod’ sidepod design and overall car concept first conceived in 2022’s recalcitrant W13 at the start of F1’s new ground-effect era, with the team mistakenly believing it could be made into a Red Bull challenger following Russell’s win ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the 2022 Brazilian Grand Prix. 

But Mercedes swiftly moved to abandon that approach once the W14 was revealed to be badly off the pace in the 2023 Bahrain test and season opener.

It was updated with Red Bull’s downwash sidepod concept at the Monaco GP, with team principal Toto Wolff saying recently “there's almost every component that's being changed because only by doing that, I think we have a chance” with 2024’s W15. 

These changes, Wolff said, would cover “how we laid out the chassis, the weight distribution, the airflow”.

Speaking to select media including Autosport, Russell said he felt “more confident going into this [2023-2024 winter] break” because Mercedes has been “working on the new [W15] concept for a long time and there’s been so much due diligence gone into that concept”. 

“Whereas I think last year it was all a little bit rushed,” he added. 

“We didn’t have all the information to hand, we may have jumped to a couple of conclusions without thoroughly going through the consequences. 

“And we learned when the car hit the ground this year that we made a step forward in some regards, but it came with a lot of baggage and we hadn’t taken that into consideration.  

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG, in Parc Ferme after Qualifying

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG, in Parc Ferme after Qualifying

“So, I think we’ve done a great job to truly understand what we need.  

“We’ve obviously had a further 12 months’ experience to further understand the car and what brings the performance.  

“I think last year we put all our eggs in one basket and that wasn’t a basket that provided the performance we were expecting. 
 
“[But], the fact is we’ve got to close a huge gap. The Red Bull dominance this year [in 2023] is probably the greatest - I think statistically it is the most dominant car ever - so we’ve all got a huge task on our hands.

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“But I’m going into next year with an open mind.  

“I don’t think anyone’s expecting either us, McLaren, Aston Martin or Ferrari to make that step straightaway.  

“But [I’m] definitely confident we won’t fall into some of the same traps we did this year.”

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