Mercedes technical director James Allison believes that after developing ‘a pretty ambitious program’ for the new W15 car, the team will have a shot at winning the Formula 1 2024 World Championship.
Mercedes has only won one grand prix since the ground effect regulations were implemented in 2022, despite having won a record eight constructors’ titles from the beginning of the F1 V6 hybrid era in 2014.
Seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton is the most successful driver in Formula 1 history with almost 100 pole positions and victories under his belt. However, he hasn’t won since the final race of the 2021 season in Saudi Arabia.
On the other hand, Hamilton’s teammate George Russell is the only one who is yet to add to his first triumph after winning the 2022 Brazilian Grand Prix.
When the Silver Arrows revealed their new look in 2022, everyone in the paddock held their breath. Mercedes made a play that was all or nothing when it unveiled a car that looked to be without sidepods—a concept that was mockingly dubbed “zeropod.”
Mercedes chose to stick with the controversial zero-pod car design at the beginning of the season, but after a dismal performance in Bahrain, they decided to drop it after just one race. Eventually in Monaco back in May, the team unveiled a significantly redesigned chassis.
However, the team struggled to finish in second place in the Constructors’ standings ahead of Ferrari despite the design overhaul, only making slow progress for the remainder of the season.
Allison has maintained that there was more going on than what seemed to be the case from an outsider’s perspective, despite the team receiving a lot of criticism for sticking with the design.
“Well, I don’t quite see the world the same way you guys do, looking at a sidepod and deciding that’s a concept,” he told Sky Sports. “We definitely took a path with our car and I would say that’s from the tip of the nose to the very back of the tail which was not a competitive one.
“The most visually noticeable aspect were our sidepods of course, but by no means the definitive factor.
“It was not right from front to back and that’s the thing we’ve had to learn and have to deal with.
“That’s taken us longer than we would have liked but the sidepods are maybe emblematic of a team that took too long to figure out which way was up but by no means the distinguishing feature that sealed our fate.”
Mercedes is still optimistic about fighting for the crown next year given Red Bull and Max Verstappen’s dominance after the latter won a record 19 of 22 races in 2023 to claim a third straight World Championship.
Speaking on the Performance People podcast, Allison expressed optimism that Mercedes having advanced significantly with the W15 architecture, will be competitive in 2024.
“‘I don’t know,’ is the answer to that,” Allison responded when asked if Mercedes will resume their winning ways in 2024 or if it will take longer to reclaim their old glory. “I hope that we have put in place enough of a program of work that we have put ourselves in with a shout to be back to competitiveness.
“When you say ‘winning ways’, does that mean winning a race? Does that mean winning a Championship? In my head, it’s only ever about Championships.
“That’s what Formula 1 is: it’s a Constructors’ and a Drivers’ Championship. I hope that we have done enough to give ourselves a shout of being in a Championship fight in both Championships.
“If you look at the long march of F1 history, then the stats are against us.
“Teams do not bounce back from slipping from their previous peak in the length of time that we have set ourselves. But we have nevertheless set a pretty ambitious program.
“We have quite a lot of strength in depth here and we’ve made quite a lot of progress with next year’s car.
“Whether it proves sufficient or not, only time will tell, but that’s what I’m hoping for us and I know that all my colleagues and team-mates around me will be hoping for the same.”
Allison’s remarks coincide with the second anniversary of the hugely controversial 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, in which Hamilton was surprisingly barred from winning a record eighth championship.
While most people believe that Hamilton lost to Verstappen because FIA race director Michael Masi mishandled the Safety Car protocol, Christian Horner, the principal of Red Bull team, recently said Mercedes just ‘f*cked up’ by choosing not to pit the British driver.