‘More attention on Russell and gifted Allison returns at Mercedes’

Total-Motorsport.com take a closer look at what to expect from Mercedes ahead of the 2024 Formula 1 season

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Mercedes go into 2024 knowing it will be their last Formula 1 season with Lewis Hamilton and they are looking to return to winning ways.

They went winless for the first time in a season for 12 years in 2023 as Hamilton and George Russell got very close on track on more than one occasion.

James Alisson is back in the technical director role and Toto Wolff remains as team principal, with both key figures signing new contracts in January.

Total-Motorsport.com journalists Adam Dickinson, Jasmine Hughes, Joe Krishnan, Ed Spencer and Brandon Sutton take a look at what to expect from Mercedes in 2024.

Adam Dickinson: Do Mercedes have the firepower behind the scenes?

Much has been made of Mercedes‘ new direction for 2024, after two failed years in the wilderness, but I do question whether they have the firepower behind the scenes to truly make a success of these regulations.

Their track record of accurately predicting their circuit-to-circuit form at the end of 2023 indicated they still weren’t fully on top of their modelling and simulations, and can they really improve on that over the off-season?

Additionally, Hamilton‘s costly disqualification at the United States GP was the latest in a string of operational errors over the last three seasons that is an even more worrying trend than the car’s uncompetitiveness.

Lewis Hamilton’s car after 2023 United States Grand Prix | Mercedes F1 Team / Sebastian Kawka

Until Mercedes have proved they can solve these issues then I can’t back them to consistently challenge Red Bull and though I think they should be closer to the front of the grid then Ferrari should be in that mix too.

I think Mercedes will be consistent enough for another top-three finish but last year Ferrari showed that the gap between their driver line-ups isn’t that big and McLaren and Aston Martin will once again take points off them too.

Constructors’ Championship prediction: 3rd

Ed Spencer: Mercedes era all but over

With one win from two seasons, a star driver leaving for Ferrari at season’s end and an uncertain future. It’s fair to say the Mercedes era is all but over.

Two years of persistence with the doomed ‘no’ sidepod concept have put Mercedes on the back foot, and although they’ve dropped the concept, don’t expect results to improve right away.

Russell must up his game after an underwhelming 2023, where he made far too many mistakes, costing him dearly. With Hamilton leaving, Russell also needs to prove to Wolff why he should lead Mercedes’ new era.

As for Hamilton, his final season for Mercedes is guaranteed to be emotional, but the Brit will likely squeeze everything out of the W15 in the hope of securing one more title.

Constructors’ Championship prediction: 5th

Mercedes-AMG F1 W15 E Performance Launch | Mercedes F1 Team

Joe Krishnan: Maybe Hamilton saw the Mercedes writing on the wall

Oh to be a fly on the wall in the room when Hamilton told Wolff he was going to Ferrari. Mercedes’ hopes of launching a genuine title challenge have been thrown into disarray following the Briton’s shock announcement and it’s going to be an awkward season for all concerned.

There had been positive noises about the W15 as well, although it is hardly an indication of projected success when your top driver decides to jump ship and join a direct rival. It makes me wonder if a 39-year-old Hamilton saw the writing on the wall and decided he can’t bear being a second a lap slower than Max Verstappen.

Russell has an amazing opportunity at establishing himself as Mercedes’ new No.1 driver when Hamilton ducks out, but there are doubts. He scored only two podiums in 2023 and registered 100 fewer points than his 2022 total, which is alarming.

Consider how McLaren were quicker than Mercedes with the same engine on several occasions – and so were Aston Martin in the first half of the season – it could be a difficult campaign for Wolff’s clan. The dismal prospect of the Silver Arrows tumbling to fourth, or even fifth, is difficult to fathom. But if it happened to Ferrari in 2020, Mercedes certainly aren’t immune.

Constructors’ Championship prediction: 3rd

Jasmine Hughes: Attention will turn to Russell

Mercedes appear to be taking an entirely different approach to its car this year, as they look to build back from two disappointing seasons. The team will, hopefully, have listened to their drivers’ complaints — which could mean we see a much stronger Mercedes. But equally, as Mercedes switches course to a different concept, there’s no guarantee this will translate to on-track success.

With Hamilton’s impending departure, Mercedes will start to turn attention to Russell as team leader. We could see some favourable strategies go Russell’s way, as Mercedes look for the young Brit to take the team into 2025 and beyond.

The team will find itself battling it out with McLaren and Ferrari, and the competition could be close. But with Mercedes still trying to find a car concept that sticks, their rivals might have the upper hand this year.

Constructors’ Championship prediction: 4th

Brandon Sutton: Gifted technical director Allison returns

With Allison, their gifted technical designer back, Mercedes will sever any connections to their previous cars making them an exciting wildcard in 2024. Could they find enough pace with a new idea to catch up to Verstappen’s Red Bull team over one winter? Probably not, but we can dream.

Allison created the dominant 2019 and 2020 Mercedes cars that managed to win 28 races across those two seasons, so the German team have someone who knows what he is doing compared to Mike Elliott’s reign which had nightmarish poor design and a lack of correlation from computer simulations to on-track reality.

If Allison can deliver then Brackley’s drivers needs no introduction. In one corner, Hamilton has won 103 races yielding seven drivers’ championships and in the other is another Grand Prix winner, Russell.

Russell has served as Hamilton’s protege and will inherit the team in 2025, meaning now is his year to make a statement but his teammate is going for a record-breaking eighth title. Could there be fireworks?

They will squeeze everything out of the car, so wins are possible, but championships are too far away for now.

Constructors’ Championship prediction: 2nd

Ed Spencer
Ed Spencer
FIA accredited journalist
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