hamilton mercedes w15 shakedown wet silverstone f1

Wolff wants quick W15 for Hamilton’s final F1 season at Mercedes

hamilton mercedes w15 shakedown wet silverstone f1

Despite it being Lewis Hamilton’s last season before ‘defecting’ to Ferrari from Mercedes, team boss Toto Wolff is intent on providing the seven-time Formula 1 World Champion a race-winning car again.

The F1 News of the Century – Hamilton to Ferrari – invariably cast a long shadow on the launch of the Mercedes W15 and its subsequent shakedown by the Briton at Silverstone this week. After all, it is the last time he will drive a Mercedes-powered car.

The German team has been good to Hamilton. All his record 103 Grand Prix victories (and 104 pole position starts for that matter) were scored with Mercedes-power, even when he drove for McLaren, the only other team he has raced within the top flight.

History shows that Wolff and Hamilton arrived at Mercedes in 2013, together they turned the former BAR, Honda Brawn GP into the most potent F1 team in the sport’s history as they dominated the second decade of this century, powering to 15 F1 world titles in eight years, Hamilton winning six of those and Nico Rosberg one.

But since his last Grand Prix victory, Saudi in 2021, Sir Lewis has not won a race, the longest winless spell of his illustrious career, thanks to bad decisions made by Mercedes for the advent of the new F1 aero rules in 2022, which they got wrong and Red Bull did not.

Wolff: A mountain to climb to fight at the very front

mercedes w15 new car

Speaking to Sky F1 on the occasion of the 2024 Mercedes F1 car launch, Wolff hopes the all-new W15, a radically new concept, will mean more wins again for Hamilton: “Obviously it’s going to be our last season with Lewis so we are keen on really bringing a quick car.

“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.

“This is a complete relaunch of a car. This is very different. Not only on the aerodynamic surfaces but mainly underneath, there are so many mechanical changes that we have done which we hope are going to translate into more performance, more predictability and a car that the drivers can really push.”

Although Mercedes finished second to Red Bull in the 2023 F1 Constructors’ standings, apart from no victories they also scored less than half the points (409) the reigning World Champions amassed (860) and less than what Verstappen scored alone (575) on his way to a third crown.

Have Mercedes made progress with the W15?

wolff russell hamilton mercedes w15

Turning negatives into positives is the intention of Wolff and his team, bygones are bygones to learn from with a new look black and silver Merc for 2024: “As the saying goes: when it stings, it sticks. I believe the previous two years were necessary for us to readjust, recalibrate and reinvent ourselves in certain areas. That root-and-branch approach is never easy.

“But we’ve made progress and look forward to taking the next step with the W15. It won’t be a linear path, but when we stumble, we will get back up and keep climbing. Performance was always at the forefront of our minds with the black livery last year. Weight is a crucial factor in this current generation of cars.

“We knew that, once we were in a position to do so, we would bring back the Mercedes silver to accompany the black that has become a pillar of our team identity. The livery truly reflects who we are as a team.”

Petronas and INEOS are the prominent partners on the Mercedes W15 livery, Wolff explained in the team’s launch press kit: “Our commercial strategy has evolved over recent years. We have always been focused on building long-term relationships with partners that share our values and delivering clear return on investment.

Wolff: We pride ourselves on trying to be the very best in every single area

Wolff Hamilton Mercedes

“We have now made the conscious decision to refine our partner ecosystem. We want to concentrate on a smaller, select group of partners, to better serve and deliver on their return on investment. We pride ourselves on trying to be the very best in every single area, and we believe this approach is the way we can achieve this with our partners,” explained Wolff.

The direction change by Mercedes with their new design concept will soon be judged by the spotlight of Bahrain F1 Testing next week, and finally in Qualifying Q3 on Friday [Note: The Grand Prix is on Saturday] at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, on 1 March.

Wolff said: “We’re intrigued to see how the car will perform. We hope to have solved some of the inherent problems and we will get our first indications of the progress we’ve made during pre-season testing.

From there, we will understand more about the challenge that is ahead of us. There are no crystal balls in this sport. But we will at least know the gap we are aiming to close down. Our ambition is strong and we’re ready to get going. We will see it next week in Bahrain,” added Wolff.