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Herbert unsure Mercedes know ‘exactly what they need to do’ if W15 underperforms

Former F1 driver, Johnny Herbert, recently warned Mercedes about them facing a "downward spiral" right before the start of the 2024 season

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Johnny Herbert has warned Mercedes could be stuck in a rut if the W15 does not demonstrate strong potential. 

Mercedes
Mercedes at their car launch of the 2024 car, W15. (Credit: X @MercedesAMGF1)

Mercedes are one of the most successful Formula 1 teams with seven Drivers’ Championships and eight Constructors’ Championships to their name. Unfortunately for Mercedes, since Max Verstappen was crowned champion of the 2021 season, they have struggled to get back to their championship-winning ways.

The Brackley-based outfit has been far from delivering a fight to Red Bull with the last Mercedes win being Sao Paulo in 2022. Now, former F1 driver Johnny Herbert has warned that Mercedes could be facing a “downward spiral” if the 2024 car does not provide the results Mercedes desire.

A failure or innovation?

Mercedes have struggled with the new regulations. They introduced a zeropod concept that was scrapped in 2023 from Monaco onwards due to the lack of results. But now with the launch of the W15 and pre-season testing underway, Herbert has provided a warning to the Silver Arrows.

As reported by PlanetF1, Herbert emphasised the danger Mercedes are in if their 2024 challenger does not prove to be better than its predecessors. Herbert said:

“They’ve got to get the performance. Now this is going to be a really critical year for them.

“Because if they can’t, or don’t make the car competitive, I think this is going to be a horrible downward spiral which they’ve sort of been in for the last couple of years.”

Herbert continued, touching on Mercedes’ mindset in relation to their car concept. He added:

“Because their mindset with their concept obviously hasn’t worked and if it doesn’t work this year, I think there is that horrible situation where they’re probably thinking that they are lost, because I don’t think they know exactly what they need to do.”

The details are what matter

Although Herbert warned the team about a possible “downward spiral”, he also noticed a positive detail about the W15. This one being that the issue with the seat placement that had been mentioned before by Lewis Hamilton was fixed.

“With Lewis, one thing that he’s mentioned about his seating position. I know that has shifted a little bit further back.

“It’s a really horrible feeling when, like Lewis says, you’re sitting on that front axle when the car is pivoting around you and you don’t feel that you’ve got any connection with the car at all. So it’d be interesting to see if that makes the car more consistent for one thing.”

Pre-season testing began today. For Mercedes, George Russell is in the car with Hamilton on the schedule for tomorrow.

Headline image: Gettyimages

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