Mercedes: W15 had a ‘complete relaunch’ says Toto Wolff

Toto Wolff says Mercedes’ new Formula 1 car is a “complete relaunch” as they try to recover from two tough years.

The eight-time champions have lagged behind Red Bull for two seasons under new rules introduced in 2022.

“The car is very different, not only on the aerodynamic surfaces but mainly underneath,” team principal Wolff said.

“There are many mechanical changes. We hope it will transfer into more predictability and a car the drivers can really push.”

The new W15 has abandoned Mercedes’ now-discredited so-called ‘zero-sidepod’ philosophy in favour of the aerodynamic direction pursued by Red Bull.

This features heavily undercut sidepods and a surface ‘ramp’ sloping the bodywork downwards towards the rear, all aimed at best manipulating airflow around the car and maximising the downforce created by the underbody ‘venturi’ tunnels.

Wolff said the team were keeping their expectations in check, hoping to lead the group compromising Ferrari, McLaren and Aston Martin, their main rivals last year, and push on towards catching Red Bull.

He said: “Most important is that you look inward. What is it we got wrong? Why did the virtual world not correlate with the real world?

“And we found some clues and tried to eliminate some variables. We know it is difficult and a big mountain to climb because if a team is far ahead like Red Bull was last year it is not easy.

“But we have a superb driver combination, hopefully a fast car and I think there are some very good ingredients to be back at the front again.”

The 2024 season will be seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton’s last with Mercedes, following his decision to move to Ferrari for 2025. He will be partnering fellow Briton George Russell for the third season.

The seven-time champion said: “The focus is getting the team back to where we once were. These difficult couple of years have been really grounding for us. It has helped us regroup and it is now about being diligent with our work.”

Russell added: “We hit the ground in 2022 and the car wasn’t performing as we expected but we have learned so much as a team. There is a fire within. Everyone is so excited and motivated. I’ve got faith it will come.”

In addition to an overall lack of performance, the Mercedes drivers complained of a lack of predictability and a lack of rear grip in the team’s two previous cars.

Wolff said: “The target is to do a good job, look inwards, try to have the car on track that is predictable and has lots of downforce and do a solid job and deliver on our targets, to give a car to Lewis and George that they enjoy driving and not as difficult as the previous years. And hopefully in Bahrain in a week’s time, we will have more good feedback than bad.”

The car will have its initial ‘shakedown’ test at Silverstone on Wednesday alongside the new McLaren.

Pre-season testing is in Bahrain on 21-23 February, followed by the opening race of the season in the Gulf state on 2 March.

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