Advertisement

The five things Mercedes have changed on their car for the 2024 season

Mercedes new car/The five things Mercedes have changed on their car for the 2024 season
The W15 does look strikingly different from its two predecessors - PA/Mercedes

After two poor seasons by their standards, Mercedes have gone back to the drawing board and come up with a “complete relaunch” for 2024, to use the description of team principal Toto Wolff.

The W15 does look strikingly different from its two predecessors. A new sidepod scheme, a new cockpit position, a new front wing, a new rear suspension layout and a new paint job are among the changes. But will it enable the Brackley team to close the gap to leaders Red Bull? Only time will tell, but Lewis Hamilton in particular will be happy about the decision to move the cockpit back by around 10cm, a change he has been pushing for for the last two seasons.

“The design of any car is an iterative process, and a long one at that,” technical director James Allison explained in a team press release. “It stretches back to last year. 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.

“A big focus has been on improving the previous car’s unpredictable rear axle. 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.”

Arguably the biggest talking point of the W15 is its front wing elements
Arguably the biggest talking point of the W15 is its front wing elements - AFP/Mercedes

Allison added that most of the changes were not even visible. “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.

“We feel like we have had a good winter, but F1 is a relative game and only time will tell how big a step we’ve made. We’re focused on getting the most from the car we launch, but we are excited by the development rate that will follow as the regulations are still young and opportunities abound.”

Wolff was equally circumspect. “We know we have a mountain to climb to fight at the very front. There are no miracles in this sport. But 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.”

Paint scheme

The most obvious change is the paint scheme of the car itself. When the Silver Arrows relaunched as a works team in 2010, the car was silver but last year opted for an all-black concept to cut down on weight. For 2024, the Brackley team have brought back the original colours and combined them with the black of recent years. There are also nods to the team’s two principal sponsors. “The distinguished ‘Toto Rosso’ red” of Ineos, and Petronas green which provides “a dynamic flow across the car.”

Sidepods

After the colour scheme, the biggest change is to the side pods. As expected (after two below-par seasons) Mercedes have ditched the ‘zero-pod’ concept and gone with a more Red Bull-like solution which features heavily undercut side pods and a surface ‘ramp’ sloping the bodywork downwards towards the rear. The idea being to manipulate airflow around the car and maximise the downforce created by the underbody ‘venturi’ tunnels.

Position of cockpit

The knock-on effect of ditching the zero-pods is that Mercedes have been able to move the cockpit back by around 10cm. The previous design forced the radiators inwards, narrowing the fuel tank, making it longer and pushing everything else lengthways. This created the forward seating position that Hamilton disliked. Sitting further back should give him a better feel for what the rear of the car is doing.

Front wing

Arguably the biggest talking point of the W15 is its front wing elements. According to F1’s technical regulations, all elements must be fixed to the nose. However, at first glance, the W15’s top element does not appear to be attached to the car. Instead there is a ‘wire’ ahead of the third element by which the part is attached. Expect other teams to take a close look at this.

Push-rod rear suspension around a new gearbox design

Part of Mercedes’ direction change with their new challenger sees a switch to a push-rod rear suspension, having been one of the few teams to favour a pull-rod layout in 2023. The front remains pushrod in operation.

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 3 months with unlimited access to our award-winning website, exclusive app, money-saving offers and more.