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Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W15
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Special feature

Why Mercedes’ F1 struggles are different this time

The sense of deja vu from the outside looking in at Mercedes is clear at the start of the 2024 Formula 1 season. While its revamped car design hasn’t allowed Lewis Hamilton and George Russell to take the fight to Red Bull yet, there remains optimism if it can unlock the full potential of its car without falling into familiar traps

We’ve been here before. On 30 March 2023, the front cover of this magazine asked: ‘What next for Mercedes?’ Almost a year earlier, on 7 April 2022, the line was essentially the same, albeit with some added Toto Wolff fury – ‘“Totally unacceptable” – what’s gone wrong at Mercedes’. Arguably, this rather niche trend encompasses 2021 too, when on 15 April that year we were explaining ‘What Mercedes must do to fix the W12’ at the start of the squad’s titanic battle with Red Bull for that year’s world titles.

But those 2022 and 2023 features, and now this one, follow the second round of a new Formula 1 season. Mercedes was comprehensively defeated in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix earlier this month, not just by the dominant Red Bull team but by its regular rivals in the also-ran race. This isn’t a convenient case of deja vu. It’s real repetition and time to ask: what has gone wrong with Mercedes this time?

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