Dire Brazilian GP confirms the all-new 2024 F1 design is the right move
The German manufacturer has been working hard on a radically different car for 2024, and it’s clearly not hitting the mark with its current W14 rival.
While such a dramatic change in direction opens up the risk of the team having to reboot based on all the knowledge it has gained over the past two years, the team says it is now convinced there is no future for the current concept.
The apparent lack of pace at Interlagos, where Lewis Hamilton dropped down the pecking order from third when the season resumed a year after the team won there, highlighted that it had been foolish to stick with his current car.
Asked whether Brazil’s performance had eroded confidence about its understanding of the current regulations, team principal Wolff said: “No, I think it more confirms that the steps we have taken are necessary. So, at least we know that this confirms that the fundamental change path is the right one.” .
“Last year, we came off the Interlagos weekend, where you were absolutely destroying your opponents on Saturday and Sunday, and it was like: Are we doing the right thing by continuing with the structure that we have?
“Now it’s very clear. This is a terrible feeling for the whole team. I hope we can start the new season focusing on the new car.”
Photography: Andy Hone/Motorsport Images
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, competing with Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60
The extent of Mercedes’ confusion over what was happening in Brazil was highlighted by the fact that the team considered pulling its cars from the parking lot so it could change the settings to something that worked better.
However, Wolff said that such a plan has been ruled out because the team does not know what it needs to change to improve things.
“We basically didn’t know where we were going to change that, because there’s a much bigger issue,” he said. “We thought about that (starting from the pitlane), but when thinking about maximizing points, it was probably the right thing to start that way.”
Mercedes believes it has come close to getting its current car wrong this year, admitting it was too conservative and too high with its aero platform targeting ride height, which gave away too much performance.
Next year’s car will likely be ready to roll closer to the ground, with the team increasingly confident it can avoid the porpoise woes looming over its W13.
But Wolff said he would not take anything seriously regarding what Mercedes has to offer next year.
He said: “For 13 years, I have never felt optimistic or confident. “Maybe it’s more my problem and my mind: the cup is always half empty.
He continued: “But what we know is that we are completely changing the car and that we are different compared to the last eight years, where we were at the front, solid, with the chassis and people performing well at the front.”
He added: “This car in general, the development of this car, is more plaster that we put on something that is not correct.”