It’s misunderstanding Formula 1 to think it’s about speed. No, it’s about evolution. And revolution. Even as teams are battling it out on the tracks today, their eyes are on the cars of tomorrow. At the heart of this forward-thinking strategy is the fallen giant Mercedes, as revealed in the latest updates from the US Grand Prix in Austin.
Lewis Hamilton, now with an edge thanks to a brand new 2024-style floor, was on the verge of beating the dominant Max Verstappen of Red Bull. The curveball – disqualification due to floor ‘plank’ wear – didn’t even matter, as it was about the track rather than the car. “It (the surface) needs to be redone because at the moment it feels like it’s better suited to a rally car,” said Verstappen.
For Mercedes, there’s an even bigger picture. Even with the DSQ hiccup, Hamilton sees the silver lining. “This is one of the first upgrades that I’ve actually felt over the last two years,” he stated, hinting at the promising advances the team has made since fudging the start of the new ‘ground effect’ era. It’s a sentiment firmly seconded by Mercedes’ main man, Toto Wolff. “I think we had the fastest car today, but we haven’t optimised it,” he divulged to Sky Deutschland. Expanding on the positive strides, he added, “The new floor seems to work. In the fast corners, where at Suzuka we were terrible, we were very competitive here. It seems that the direction is right.”
But Wolff also had a surprise up his sleeve. Despite the evident progress with the 2022/2023 chassis, Mercedes’ future plans aren’t just about optimizing the current car. They’re about revolutionizing it. “We are changing the car completely because we simply have to make the jump to Red Bull and we are still missing half a second. And we won’t achieve that with further development,” he declared with certainty.
The F1 fraternity is taking note. Former F1 driver, Timo Glock, chimed in to indicate that Mercedes is finally closing in on the new top guns. “Mercedes now understands the direction in which things need to go,” he observed. He further elaborated, “I think the car is simply more reminiscent of Red Bull and McLaren now. It was clear to see that things are moving more and more in the right direction – especially now with the update, which worked very well for Lewis Hamilton.”
The stakes for 2024 are clear. Mercedes are done with incremental improvements; they’re readying the challenge to disrupt the pecking order. Again.