Mercedes remains unwavering in its goal to engineer an entirely new Formula 1 vehicle for 2024, underscores team principal Toto Wolff.
At the Austin race, boosted by an innovative 2024-oriented floor, Lewis Hamilton was merely a handful of laps shy of overthrowing Red Bull’s commanding Max Verstappen for the win.
Subsequently, he was ruled out for excessive degradation on the floor’s ‘plank’, a setback also faced by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. The root cause wasn’t a fundamental flaw in the floor designs, but rather the bumpy surface at the US Grand Prix site.
“It (the surface) needs to be redone because at the moment it feels like it’s better suited to a rally car,” Verstappen voiced post his triumph on Sunday.
“I don’t think it’s F1 level.”
In spite of his elimination, Hamilton conveyed contentment post the grand prix, highlighting the palpable progress Mercedes showcased.
“This is one of the first upgrades that I’ve actually felt over the last two years,” remarked the seven-time world titleholder.
Team leader Toto Wolff concurred.
“I think we had the fastest car today, but we haven’t optimised it,” Wolff confided to Sky Deutschland that Sunday.
“I hope this performance shows up later, because it’s something the sport needs. We need a few good races where there’s someone else fighting with Max.
“The new floor seems to work. In the fast corners, where at Suzuka we were terrible, we were very competitive here,” Wolff added. “It seems that the direction is right.”
Wolff speculates that Mercedes’ advancement might appear more notable than it actually is, given that Red Bull ceased their upgrades a while ago.
Hence, the trajectory for a comprehensive redesign in 2024 remains unchanged.
“We are changing the car completely because we simply have to make the jump to Red Bull and we are still missing half a second. And we won’t achieve that with further development.”
Ex-F1 racer Timo Glock believes the German brand has rightful reasons for optimism, especially with their grasp on the 2022 ‘ground effect’ regulations.
“Mercedes now understands the direction in which things need to go,” he said. “I think the car is simply more reminiscent of Red Bull and McLaren now.
“It was clear to see that things are moving more and more in the right direction – especially now with the update, which worked very well for Lewis Hamilton,” Glock added. “It’s still not understandable why George Russell had problems with it.
“But they do seem to have learned enough to bring a car for next year that is on par with Red Bull right from the start, and I’m very excited about that.
“It’s also clear to me that Red Bull and all other teams are also developing further. It’s always difficult when you fall behind like they (Mercedes) have.”