Mercedes are on track to challenge Red Bull for the 2024 Formula 1 world titles according to trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin, with the team currently sat 285 points behind their rivals in the constructors’ championship.
Mercedes took just eight points from the 2023 Dutch Grand Prix after a series of mistakes and misfortune both in the cockpit and on the pitwall, with Red Bull having scored well over twice as many points as the team 13 races into the season.
However, Shovlin said the team have been focussing on 2024 and believe they can take the fight to Red Bull, who are on course for five championships in the last three seasons of F1.
“Well, we certainly don’t think like that, because our ambition is to be challenging for a championship next year,” Shovlin told select members of the press, including Total-Motorsport.com.
“So we’re optimistic that we can do that. If you look at the step that McLaren have made, it shows that you can make big steps and we’re still understanding a lot about these regulations.
“Where we were with this car and in the constraints of the cost cap, we realised we’re not going to be able to shut down that gap to Red Bull this year, but our entire focus is on making sure we can challenge the next year.”
Mercedes not favouring Hamilton or Russell
One major advantage for Mercedes is their advantage in aerodynamic testing time over Red Bull.
Thanks to Red Bull breaking the 2021 cost cap as they prepared to dominate the new era of F1, Mercedes enjoyed more 17% testing time for the first half of 2023 and 12% from the 25th June onwards.
They put that to good use creating the Monaco upgrade that began to rescue their season but George Russell has struggled in the W14, and admitted ahead of Zandvoort that he’s less confident in the car than at the start of 2023.
But Shovlin reiterated the team don’t cater their developments towards one driver or another, after Russell enjoyed a much better Dutch GP weekend.
“It’s not normally a thing that you need to compromise on,” Shovlin added. “There’s areas where we think our car doesn’t have good enough entry stability, when we solve that that will benefit both of them, even if one of them’s a bit more affected by another.
“The way you develop a car and the way you look for performance is based very much on the physics.
“And while it might suit one driver a bit more than another, the machine that we’re trying to put lap time constantly on the car with is very much linked just to the physics and downforce and stability and balance of this.”