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Mercedes launch W15 ahead of 2024 F1 season

After their first winless season since 2011, Mercedes will be hoping that the W15 can at the least provide victories, in what will be the last F1 season of Lewis Hamilton’s tenure

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In the shadow of Lewis Hamilton’s impending departure to Ferrari, Mercedes have unveiled the W15 – their car for the F1 season ahead.

Mercedes F1 W15
The Mercedes W15 brings back elements of the traditional silver livery, but retains the predominantly black look. (Image Credit: @Formula_Nerds on X)

Winless in over a season, with their star man winless in over two, Mercedes will be hoping that their swansong will prove more productive than the first two years of the latest ground effect era.

George Russell’s win in Sao Paulo in 2022 has been the sole time Mercedes has punctuated the equilibrium of Red Bull dominance since the titanic title showdown between the two teams three years ago.

Now, the Brackley-based outfit stares down the barrel of a Hamilton-less future. With one last opportunity to give the most successful pairing in F1 history a fitting send-off, all eyes will be on how well the W15 might bridge the gap to the soon-to-be-revealed Red Bull RB20.

What can be expected?

Despite finishing P2 in the constructors’ championship last season, there is still considerable work to do – or to have been done over the winter, rather.

The new car will be the first Mercedes in the current regulations cycle not to launch with the failed ‘no-pod’ philosophy. In December, Toto Wolff told FormulaNerds that whilst the team had been “bold and courageous to embark on the road with such a car that was a different concept that nobody else had,” it was ultimately a case of “physics and not mystics” as to why their approach fell short.

However, with the W15, a more traditional approach has been taken, even if some aspects are still a departure from the status quo:

“Next year’s car is gonna be more conventional in what you would expect from a Formula 1 car, but there are a few interesting details that we have not seen on other cars yet.”

As the W15 launched, Wolff cut an optimistic figure, one who has high hopes for the year ahead, saying:

“Our ambition and determination are strong. Since charting this new course, development has progressed well. We had several items on our priority list for this car. We will soon see if we’ve made the step we’ve aimed for.”

What has changed?

Technical Director James Allison has explained that whilst steps were made during the 2023 season, the winter break has been key for development.

“It stretches back to last year,” he began.

“A new car enables the team to make bigger alterations that are not possible during the season. These are decisions that are taken during the preceding summer.”

Going on to reveal that the W15 will sport a new chassis and gearbox casing, James also highlighted the attention paid to aerodynamic efficiency.

“A big focus has been on improving the previous car’s unpredictable rear axle,” he explained. “We have worked hard to ensure that both axles, but particularly the rear axle, retain better control of the tyre than on the W14. There’s also been some housekeeping on areas in which we had room for improvement, including the DRS effect, and pit stop performance.”

However, the principal factor in development has been the underside of the car: “With this current generation of cars, so much of the performance comes from how the floor interacts with the road. Whether or not a car is effective is down to how well that floor is permitted to behave aerodynamically.”

Laying the groundwork

Wolff has been quick to emphasis the importance of two relatively lean years for the team, highlighting on numerous occasions how critical it is for learning.

“As the saying goes: when it stings, it sticks. I believe the previous two years were necessary for us to readjust, recalibrate and reinvent ourselves in certain areas,” he said.

“That root-and-branch approach is never easy. But we’ve made progress and look forward to taking the next step with the W15. It won’t be a linear path, but when we stumble, we will get back up and keep climbing.”

With just seven days before the start of pre-season testing, it won’t be long before Mercedes get their first true understanding as to how they’ve done during the off-season. Wolff closed by adding:

“We’re intrigued to see how the car will perform. We hope to have solved some of the inherent problems and we will get our first indications of the progress we’ve made during pre-season testing. From there, we will understand more about the challenge that is ahead of us. There are no crystal balls in this sport. But we will at least know the gap we are aiming to close down. Our ambition is strong and we’re ready to get going.”

Featured Image Credit: Mercedes Media Pool

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