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Formula 1 Brazilian GP

Mercedes: Dire Brazilian GP confirms all-new 2024 F1 design is right move

Mercedes says that its dire Brazilian Grand Prix is proof that its decision to commit to an all-new W15 Formula 1 car next year is the right thing to do.

Mechanics of the Mercedes AMG team work on the car of Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, on the grid before the race

The German manufacturer has been working hard on a fundamentally different car for 2024, with it clear that it did not hit the targets with its current W14 challenger.

While such a dramatic change of direction opens the risk of the team having to restart on all the knowledge it has gained over the past two years, the team says it is now convinced that there is no future for the current concept.

The obvious lack of pace at Interlagos, where Lewis Hamilton slid down the order from starting third at the restart a year on from the squad triumphing there, has highlighted that it would have been even more foolish to stick with its current car.

Asked if the Brazil form had dented confidence about its understanding of the current regulations, team principal Wolff said: “No, I think more confirmed that the steps that we did are necessary. So at least we know it confirms that the trajectory of changing fundamentally is right. 

“Last year, we came out of an Interlagos weekend, where you're absolutely demolishing your competition Saturday and Sunday, and that was like: are we doing the right thing by continuing with the chassis that we have?

“Now it is pretty clear. This feels horrible for the whole team. And I wish we could start the new season and concentrate on the new car.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, battles with Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, battles with Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60

The scale of Mercedes’ confusion over what was going on in Brazil was highlighted by the fact that the team considered pulling its cars out of parc ferme so it could change set-up to something that worked better.

However, Wolff said that such a plan was ruled out because the team did not know what it needed to change to make things better.

“We didn't know fundamentally where we would have changed it, because there is a much bigger issue,” he said. “We thought about that [starting from the pitlane], but when thinking about maximizing points, it was probably right to start like this.”

Mercedes believes it has closed in on what went wrong with its current car this year – as it has confessed to having been too conservative and too high with its targeted ride-height aero platform, which has given away a lot of performance.

Next year’s car will likely be set to run much closer to the ground, with the outfit being more confident that it can avoid the porpoising problems that hung over its W13 car.

But Wolff said he would not be taking anything for granted about what Mercedes would deliver next year.

“For 13 years I've never felt optimistic or confident,” he said. “It's maybe more my problem and my brain: the glass is always half empty. 

“But what we know is that we're changing the car completely and we are an outlier compared to the last eight years, where we've been in the front, solid, and with the structure and people to perform at the front.”

He added: “This car generally, the development of this car, is more plasters that we put on something that's not right.”

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