Team principal Toto Wolff says Mercedes has turned its focus to its 2024 car after understanding the development direction it needs to take following a tough first half to this season.
Mercedes retained its radical sidepod concept at the beginning of 2023 as it looked to bounce back from a largely uncompetitive first season under new regulations last year, but found itself even further off the pace of Red Bull. Since a major upgrade was introduced in Barcelona, the W14 has been more consistent and Mercedes is now a relatively comfortable second place in the constructors’ standings, so Wolff says a new car for next year has become the priority.
“The sails are set for 2024 now,” Wolff said. “We still have some updates to come with W14, but I find focus switching to next year good, because there is so much we can optimize on the current car without looking too much into upgrades.
“Let’s see how we can get it into more of a sweet spot while gaining lots of understanding for next year. The more learnings we can find, the better placed we will be for 2024 and beyond.”
Wolff says the work being done on next year’s car is with an increased level of confidence based on the lessons Mercedes has learned over the first part of this season, as well as the level of competitiveness of its power unit.
“The positives are that we clearly see some development route that functions. We understand where we need to add performance. It’s a frustrating process because it takes time to fundamentally change a car when you decide on a different development direction. And it takes a huge amount of work from everyone involved to get the car in a better place. But there is light at the end of the tunnel.
“It’s also been a positive season so far from a power unit perspective; everyone at Mercedes-AMG HPP has worked hard and done a great job giving us a power unit that’s at the top of the pack.
“The collaboration is critical. The teamwork between the two factories is stronger than ever. That’s why it’s been a strong season so far from a power unit perspective. The hardware freeze last year, and this year’s software freeze, has limited the scope in which to work. That hasn’t deterred everyone working there though and we’ve seen fantastic reliability combined with great performance and delivery.
“That is also true for the customer teams. To varying degrees, they’ve all enjoyed positive first halves to the season and that is testament to the work of HPP.”