George Russell has laid out the mistakes Mercedes made when designing its 2023 car, and is confident that it will not “stumble at the first hurdle” next season.
Mercedes elected to maintain its zero sidepod concept for the W14 that had proved troublesome on the W13, limiting the team to just one win all season, in Sao Paulo which was Russell’s first in F1.
It slipped to third in the standings as Lewis Hamilton went winless for the first season in his career, with the team set to record a first winless season of its own since 2011 if it cannot win the Las Vegas or Abu Dhabi Grands Prix.
The Brackley squad dumped the sidepod design for the Monaco Grand Prix, reverting to a concept which was intended to set it on the right path for development to catch Red Bull.
A further floor upgrade in the United States proved effective with back-to-back P2 finishes (on the road, at least), before a poor Sao Paulo GP followed in which the car was slow and in the case of Russell, unreliable.
However, despite the setbacks of 2023, Russell is confident that two years of learnings and mistakes will combine to make the W15 a much better package.
Russell backs Mercedes
“12 months on, we have a further 12 months of information, and we’ve managed to implement some of those changes we want for 2024 in certain tests this year,” Russell told media including RacingNews365.
“The work we’re putting into 2024 is a lot more thorough with our assessment of every single decision, and the car was nowhere near where we wanted it to be last season.
“We felt we needed a lot of change, and perhaps we rushed a couple of decisions without thoroughly testing in the simulator and going through the potential consequences.
“We were just trying so many different things, and it was more quantity over quality testing, and this year, we’ve really nailed down on the direction we want to go.
“We’ve tripled-checked our processes with the direction we’ve taken and I’m confident 12 months later, with our two years of learnings, that we’re not going to be caught out by anything.
“That doesn’t mean we’re going to have the fastest car, but it just means I don’t think we are going to stumble at the first hurdle.”