Russell insists Mercedes ‘won’t falter at the first hurdle’ in 2024 · RaceFans

Russell insists Mercedes ‘won’t falter at the first hurdle’ in 2024 · RaceFans

George Russell expressed his confidence in Mercedes’ ability to start the 2024 Formula 1 World Championship season stronger than in the past two years.

Russell joined Mercedes at the start of the 2022 season, when ground-effect aerodynamic technical regulations came into force for the first time. His arrival coincided with a significant decline in the form of the multiple world champions, who dropped to third place in the Constructors’ Championship at the end of the 2022 season.

Mercedes arrived at the pre-season tests in Bahrain hoping to achieve a significant lead over its rivals and champion Red Bull. However, the team endured another frustrating test and after Red Bull dominated the start of the season, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff admitted that the team would look to move away from the ‘zero side’ aero concept from the 2024 season.

With two rounds remaining in 2023, Mercedes has yet to win a grand prix. The team endured a very disappointing Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos, with Russell retiring due to excessive power unit temperatures and teammate Lewis Hamilton falling from fifth on the grid to eighth. However, Russell says he has more confidence that his team will start 2024 much stronger than in the previous two seasons.

George Russell, Mercedes, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023 pre-season testing
Mercedes was hoping to achieve more gains in pre-season testing

“What caught our attention this year stems from the winter development,” Russell explained. “We took the wrong direction, made some mistakes, and that was evident once we got on track in Bahrain.

“As we enter year three now, I’m confident we won’t make the same mistakes. I’m confident we’ve made some good gains over this winter that we’re finding at the moment, but it’s a relative game and we don’t know what our opponents will bring.

Mercedes has stuck with the ground effect concept for the 2023 season. Despite the significant changes Mercedes has made to the W14 compared to its predecessor, Russell says there are fundamental similarities with both ground effect cars produced by the team.

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“Last year was definitely harder to drive,” he said. “But as has been the case for some teams, we have made some big improvements.

“It’s definitely a very different car this year than it was last year aerodynamically, but it’s still very much the same car and the themes and trends seem similar. When we look at Bahrain, Austria and Sheba, they were probably our weakest races last year and this year.” “Then last year, Mexico and Singapore were our strongest tracks, as well as Barcelona. I’m confident in our race pace, but the qualifying side of things is a flip of a coin.”

George Russell, Mercedes, Interlagos, 2023
Both Mercedes drivers endured a difficult round in Brazil

Despite two seasons of struggling for wins and watching rivals Red Bull lay waste to the competition, Russell says the progress Mercedes has made this year has made him more confident about their 2024 prospects.

“I think 12 months on, we have more information and 12-month guidance, and we’ve been able to implement some of these changes that we want for 2024 in certain tests so far this year – and it’s working as we expected,” he explained.

“I think the work we are doing leading up to 2024, we have been more thorough in our evaluation of each decision. The car was not anywhere near where we wanted it to be last season and we felt there was a big need for change. We may have rushed some decisions without testing them thoroughly on the simulator, And we went over the potential consequences. We were just trying a lot of different things and it was more about quantity testing than quality testing last year. Whereas this year, we’ve identified the direction that we want to go in. We’ve tested that process thoroughly to make sure that this is the direction that We walk in it.

Although Russell did not expect Mercedes to be able to challenge for world championship titles next year or tie with Red Bull, he does believe his team will start from a much stronger position in 2024.

“I’m confident, after 12 months, we now have enough learning for two years,” he said.

“I believe and hope we won’t stumble into anything next year. It doesn’t mean we’ll have the fastest car on the grid. It just means I don’t think we’ll stumble at the first hurdle.

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