Mercedes’ W15 Faces Braking Stability Concerns Ahead of Season Opener

Mercedes has continually emphasized that its W15 model represents progress over the challenging W13 and W14 vehicles that marked the beginning of F1’s newest ground-effect period in 2022 and 2023. The improvement is primarily noted in the car’s more stable handling characteristics.

During a press conference ahead of the Bahrain GP, George Russell was queried on whether any of the issues that plagued Mercedes’ earlier models were still impacting the performance of the W15.

“I would say this year’s car is a totally different race car,” he replied. “To the point that the things we learned from last year in the way we were setting the car up, we will need to approach it differently this year.

“So, there’s a lot to learn about this. And it feels much closer to how a race car should feel. But the one area that we need to continue to work on is probably the bouncing that we’re seeing. We got caught up with a bit of bouncing [in testing] last week.

“We were pushing the car really aggressively. But as I said, we’re dealing with a totally different beast this year, whereas 2022, 2023 they were both cut from the same cloth.

The issue of bouncing that Russell mentions focuses on stability during braking, distinct from the porpoising and bouncing challenges Mercedes famously faced in the 2022 season with its ‘zeropod’ W13 model.

According to, the W15 exhibited significant front-end bouncing, particularly noticeable when its drivers engaged the brakes for the tight, downhill right-hand Turn 8 hairpin in Bahrain.

George Russell when asked about this explained: “That’s what testing is for. I’d like to think you’ll be seeing much less of that this weekend.

“So, three years on [from the start of the new ground-effect era], I think a lot of teams can still enter this circuit and set the car up in a too low and aggressive manner. But it’s always a fine line because that’s where the downforce is.”

In response to a question about his confidence in Mercedes’ 2024 upgrade strategy, given the early challenges faced by the W15, Russell also noted that the team was “lacking downforce.”

“I’m confident the development slope of this car should be greater than we’ve seen in the past two cars, because we’ve got a better platform,” he said.

“But it’s just outright performance [where the car is lacking]. The car is feeling nice to drive, it’s feeling good to drive. But we’re just lacking downforce.”