Mercedes hope the W15 is “friendly” and “happier” than the W14

allison and Mercedes hope the W15 is

Former World Champions Mercedes are hoping to give Lewis Hamilton and George Russell a “friendly” and “happier” handling Formula 1 car in 2024, without last year’s “spiteful” traits, and to take the fight to dominant champions Red Bull this season.

Technical director James Allison, whose long-term contract extension was announced on Thursday, told reporters he felt mixed emotions ahead of the launch of the new Mercedes W15 next month: “It’s impossible at this time of the year to be anything other than apprehensive, coupled with excited, coupled with frightened. Those are always the emotions that you feel.

“I would imagine that even in Red Bull, after a year of such good performance, they will not be sleeping easy in their beds either, because no one knows what everyone else will deliver. However, what we do have some hope for is that some of the more spiteful characteristics of the rear-end of our car will be a bit more friendly to us and the handling of the car a happier thing.”

Red Bull won 21 of 22 races last season with Max Verstappen taking his third title in a row. Mercedes finished second overall, after a close battle with Ferrari, but without a victory for the first time since 2011. Hamilton hopes to have a shot at a record eighth title, at the age of 39, while fellow Briton Russell 14 years his teammate’s junior, aims for a first.

Mercedes did not win a single Grand Prix in 2023

Mercedes plan review as Lewis Hamilton and George Russell collide in Spanish Grand Prix Qualifying | F1 News | Sky Sports

Allison emphasised Mercedes were a challenger rather than a favourite but saw reasonable grounds to believe they had made some gain, along with making the car lighter and adding downforce: “Whether it’s enough, time will tell, but it’s nevertheless going to be interesting because we saw some things we knew were problems.

“We’ve hypothesised what the reason for those problems were and we’ve fixed those reasons. It will be interesting to find out how accurate we’ve been with that diagnosis,” explained Allison.

Mercedes F1 team boss Toto Wolff said last month that Mercedes, winners of eight successive constructors’ titles to 2021, had a Mount Everest to climb in order to catch up with Red Bull and Allison said the comparison was apt.

Wolff said: “Everest is the sternest of challenges but it is nevertheless possible to do, and I think that’s how we’re taking this.”

Allison believes the grid was gradually compressing as teams followed similar design paths and expected the action to be closer at the top end.

The new car will be unveiled at Silverstone on February 14. Testing is in Bahrain from February 21-23 before the opening race there on March 2. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin)