Hamilton and Russell are Monaco dark horses thanks to the Mercedes trait that’s ruined their 2024 season

Mercedes finished FP1 first (Lewis Hamilton) and third (George Russell) in FP1 at the 2024 Monaco GP, ahead of F1 rivals Red Bull, Ferrari, Aston Martin and Lando Norris

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Mercedes‘ 2024 campaign has been in one of their two worst Formula 1 seasons since the German giants rejoined the sport in 2010 despite optimism entering the year, but that could all change at the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix.

Historically, the iconic streets of Monte Carlo have been something of an Achilles heel for Mercedes as they ‘only’ took a single 1-2 on the way to 15 championships between 2014 and 2021, with the peculiar track profile often somewhat stunting the Silver Arrows.

It’s also never been a particularly strong Lewis Hamilton track – though again it’s all relative – but the unique nature of the circuit could well play into Mercedes‘ hands now they’re the hunters instead of the hunted.

And there’s already been tangible evidence to support that positivity as Hamilton was a mainstay in the top three during FP1 and ended the session top dog, with George Russell just a tenth back and ahead of Lando Norris and both Ferraris, Red Bulls and Aston Martins.

But ironically, their biggest advantage in Monaco could be the same feature that’s hamstrung Mercedes throughout the rest of 2024 so far.

How bad has 2024 been for Mercedes so far?

Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher at the launch of the first modern-day Mercedes F1 car in 2010 in Stuttgart, Germany | Mercedes F1 team

Historically so. Since they started competing in Grand Prix racing (even before the F1 world championship was conceived) Mercedes have scored a podium within the first three races of every single season they’ve entered, except 2011.

That year Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher endured a difficult sophomore year together as Mercedes were still getting their operation up and running but without some of the advantages tided over from Brawn in 2010.

However, they’d still cracked the top five on three occasions with a best finish of fourth place, compared to Mercedes‘ solitary highest grand prix result of fifth this time around.

Discounting fastest lap and sprint race points – neither of which were available to the German duo – Mercedes‘ 2024 campaign is only outscoring their previous nadir 70-52 after seven races.

Lewis Hamilton pays tribute to Niki Lauda after winning the 2019 Monaco GP ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari runner-up Sebastian Vettel | Wolfgang Wilhelm / Mercedes F1 Team

Meanwhile, the Silver Arrows had taken at least three wins by this stage in every season between 2014 and 2021, with 2019 a particular standout when Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas arrived in Monaco having scored five 1-2s in the opening five races.

The streets of Monte Carlo actually broke that streak, with Bottas taking third behind Sebastian Vettel, but Hamilton took an emotional victory in a red-haloed W10 as Mercedes paid tribute to Niki Lauda – who’d died six days before the race.

However, the sad reality is that either result would be a memorable one for Mercedes in 2024 as it’s been half a year since Hamilton or Russell stepped on a grand prix podium.

Why will Mercedes be better in Monaco?

The issue that’s haunted Mercedes throughout 2024 has been a struggle to nail a setup that balances performance in high and low-speed corners, contributing to an average points haul of less than 12 in grand prix that both cars have finished.

“I think we’ve known all season that we struggled to balance high to low speed,” Russell told select members of the press, including Total-Motorsport.com, in Monaco.

“We can either get competitive at low speed and we struggle at high speed or vice versa. So we are hoping that with relatively consistent corner speeds at this circuit that we should be slightly more competitive.”

Monaco‘s sluggishness will simplify things for Mercedes, and they’ve already reaped those rewards in free practice – the question now is whether they can convert that into points and prizes, or if it will be yet another false dawn.

Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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