Mercedes moves prove how they’re Red Bull’s best challengers in 2024

Mercedes have secured important signatures for the upcoming 2024 F1 season

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Mercedes are the team best placed to challenge Red Bull in 2024 after debuting their upcoming Formula 1 car, with their new idea being backed up by securing key personnel for short-term gain and long-term stability.

The German team have been busy over the last year and have locked down a series of key personnel such as Toto Wolff, Lewis Hamilton and James Allison, proving why they’re ready to bring the fight to Max Verstappen.

The Silver Arrows edged out Ferrari in the 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to finish second in the Constructors’ Championship, thanks to an excellent performance by George Russell during the race, who managed to overcome late trickery by Charles Leclerc to give the German team the runners’ up spot by three points.

And after, Mercedes immediately began negotiating extensions for Wolff and Allison to provide the team with a stable, experienced leadership for the upcoming season through to 2026 at least although they will lose their star driver, Hamilton, as he joins Ferrari in 2025.

Mercedes’ untapped potential

So, with someone possessing those credentials, Mercedes have already announced that they will produce an entirely new car compared to the failed 2022 and 2023 challengers. They will enter 2024 with a fresh slate, and all of the untapped potential that comes with it.

And that’s exactly what their new car looks like when it was launched on February 14th, showcasing new sidepods intakes, new front and rear suspensions and innovative front-wing designs pushing the boundary of what is permitted by the FIA.

Furthermore, putting it into context that they managed to finish third and second in the previous two seasons with an idea that wasn’t correct, with a wind tunnel that wasn’t corresponding to the track and a team that was reportedly ununified, it shows a very strong core is still in place, despite their mistakes.

And just how much time can they find with the new design from Allison‘s brain? Can they leap up right to Red Bull‘s rear wing in 2024 to produce a title fight, or will they have to settle for leading the rest of the grid in pursuit of Adrian Newey‘s devastating creations? We don’t know yet but they are an exciting wild card heading into F1‘s next season.

They have elite drivers

And as far as the drivers are concerned, they need no introduction. Lewis Hamilton is a 103-time race winner and 104-time pole sitter possessing 197 career podiums with seven world titles to his name.

The 39-year-old’s 2023 season showed he hasn’t lost his speed but he also hasn’t lost his consistency either as he finished outside of the top six on just six occasions last season with one DNF, one DSQ and one coming via post-race penalties in Austria.

Whilst George Russell has never been too far away from his teammate’s pace, indicating that he’s ready to inherit the team when his idol leaves for Ferrari at the end of the season. Russell also won the 2022 Brazilian Grand Prix sprint and race in straight fights against Max Verstappen and Hamilton suggesting he has the composure to deliver when needed.

Even when Hamilton leaves, it isn’t doom and gloom. Wolff‘s team have an incredibly exciting prospect in Kimi Antonelli ready to step up into their cars if his debut Formula 2 season goes well after cruising to the Formula Regional European Championship title. The youngster is tipped as a generational talent, the like the sport hasn’t seen since Verstappen or Leclerc hit the scene in 2015 and 2018 respectively.

Allison’s credentials

It’s important to note that Allison didn’t design the 2022 car, or the core of the 2023 car, he had been serving on INEOS Britannia’s America’s Cup project, before returning to his F1 role mid-season after Mike Elliot assumed his role as technical director at the end of 2021.

So, the extension of Allison was a big boost. By retaining their technical director, they hold onto perhaps the most important individual within their team and upon reviewing his F1 career, could be their ace-in-the-hole to rapidly catch Red Bull.

It is more than proven what University of Cambridge alumni can do after being given a drawing pad and a pen, and across his career he has played a hand in producing 21 Drivers’ and Constructors’ winning cars from his times at Ferrari (2000-2004), Renault (2005 and 2006) and Mercedes (2017-2021).

Many will remember his 2020 creation, the crème de la crème of his career. The W11 dominated the entire season and was fastest at almost all racetracks regardless of the demand on power, tyre management, aerodynamics, or efficiency resulting in 13 wins from 17 races, with 15 poles to go with it.

A calm big boss

Further boosting their cause and offering a platform of stability is the fact that Toto Wolff, broadly regarded as one of the best team principals on the grid, also extended his contract with Mercedes.

The Austrian has been in charge since 2014 and has overseen the maintenance of one of the most dominant periods in F1 history until the conclusion of the 2021 season, showing a keen eye for management.

He’s received a plethora of praise for his style and approach, promoting in-house talent and refusing to single out individuals for blame, considering a team a collective body of responsibility and it’s possibly held Mercedes together throughout the couple of years in the wilderness.

Crucially, his rapports and authority over Lewis Hamilton and George Russell was instrumental in securing the extension of the contracts of the successful veteran and promising youngster.

Brandon Sutton
Brandon is an alumni of an NCTJ and BJTC Liverpool John Moores University course, and has been with Total-Motorsport.com for over a year now. He enjoys covering all forms of motorsport but particularly focuses on Formula 1, and Brandon loves to debate various topics of the sport and other interests, especially if that topic doesn't have an open/shut answer such as the GOAT debate.
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