Mercedes technical director James Allison believes the team has made progress with resolving the biggest weaknesses with its previous cars ahead of the 2024 season.
With the latest set of regulations, Mercedes pursued a ‘zero sidepod’ concept initially before starting to converge towards the downwash design that is utilized by the rest of the grid, most effectively by Red Bull. After positive comments from Toto Wolff regarding feedback from the simulator, Allison says Mercedes believes it understands why it had problems with its previous cars and has addressed them heading into the new season.
“It’s impossible at this time of year to be anything other than apprehensive, coupled with excited, coupled with frightened…” Allison said. “It’s just those are always the emotions that you feel and I would imagine that even in Red Bull after a year of of such good performance, they will not be sleeping easy in their beds either because no one knows what everyone else will deliver.
“However, what we do have some hope for is that some of the more spiteful characteristics of the rear end of our car will be a bit more friendly to us, and the handling of the car a happier thing. That’s all in simulation but nevertheless got reasonable grounds to believe that we’ve made some gain there.
“And then on top of that you’ve got all the normal housekeeping type stuff of just making it lighter, making it more downforcey, and hopefully getting a bit of uplift from the power unit side with the calibration level tinkering that they’re still capable of doing under these current rules.
“So whether it’s enough time will tell, but it’s nevertheless going to be interesting, because we saw some things we knew were problems, we have hypothesized what the reasons for those problems were. And we have fixed those reasons. It will be interesting to find out how accurate we’ve been with that diagnosis.”
However, Allison reiterates the fact that even if the new Mercedes proves to be much better for the drivers when it first hits the track, there’s no guarantee that puts it in the mix for victories.
“On the technical side at least, I don’t think any team has ever been anything other than apprehensive at this time of year, alongside excited or whatever. But I think you’d have to be psychotic to be bullishly confident, because you only know one side of the equation, which is what you’ve done.
“And there have been years where you’ve run a car for the first time and the drivers sort of got out and said ‘well spend your bonus, this is a brilliant one’. But even then you don’t really believe it until you get to the track and start using it in anger and everyone else is alongside you.”