Allison on Mercedes’ W15 F1 car: “A big focus has been on improving the previous car’s unpredictable rear axle”

Lewis Hamilton driving the Mercedes W15 in the rain at Silverstone
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Mercedes Formula 1 Technical Director James Allison has delved into the key areas the team have worked on while developing the W15 car.

The Brackley-based team launched their new challenger on Wednesday with a shakedown at Silverstone as an innovative front wing drew attention.

Mercedes suffered a winless campaign in 2023 and lacked competitive top speed, rendering the W14 uncompetitive at some circuits.

Allison said a predictable car on the brakes was a key focus for 2024, alongside reducing drag.

“A big focus has been on improving the previous car’s unpredictable rear axle, which the drivers often referred to as spiteful. 

“We have worked on that to try and create a car that is reassuring to the drivers. At the beginning of a corner, when you’re hard on the brakes and turning in, the rear needs to feel rock solid. 

“And then, as you get towards the apex, the car needs to feel progressively more nimble and eager to turn. We have been trying to build that into the car.

“We’ve also worked hard to create a less draggy car and to add performance in the corners.

“There’s also been some housekeeping on areas in which we had room for improvement, including the DRS effect and pit stop performance.

“We were always very good at delivering a pit stop in a repeatable time, which is the key thing for a pit stop.”

Photo Credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

The new season is promising to be closely fought at the front, with Aston Martin and McLaren emerging as teams that regularly challenged for podiums in 2023.

Mercedes finished second in the Constructors’ Championship and had moments of brilliance, including a double podium in Spain, but struggled to grasp the regulations over the campaign.

Allison is confident his team have met all their targets over the winter but warned they don’t know how well their rivals have performed.

“I feel like we have delivered on all the things we said we wanted to do. Some aspects are unbounded, and therefore, you can never be fully satisfied. 

“We will not know until we run the car truly. But I think we can say that we feel like we have worked well. 

“Formula One is a relative game. Whether we’ve worked well enough to be competitive, only time will tell. We do not know what everyone else has done.”

The cost cap has provided an extra challenge for the teams when designing a new car, as they need to manage their resources more efficiently.

“A new chassis and a gearbox were standard for every year, pre-cost cap. And there’ll be several other teams who have done both things in a single year. 

“But the cost cap does force you to pick and choose your battles, and there’s no doubt that having a new outer casing as well as the same time having a new chassis are two big projects that are going to take a chunk of our available firepower. That is what we have done this year. 

“It does mean that we have not tried to reinvent the wheel in other parts of the car. But it has allowed us to undertake a couple of big projects without breaking the bank, and we believe this is a good and important use of our efforts.”