W15 E Performance is launched by Mercedes-AMG F1 Team

Mercedes starts the journey towards the start of the 2024 FIA Formula One World Championship season today with the launch of the Mercedes-AMG F1 W15 E PERFORMANCE.

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FP1 in Bahrain, the start of the 2024 campaign, lies 15 days away. Just 80 days ago, the 2023 season ended. Despite the lack of racing, the factories at Brackley and Brixworth have been buzzing with activity. The team has worked hard on a project that began almost 12 months ago.

In the immediate aftermath of a disappointing 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix, the team looked hard in the mirror at every aspect of our operations. A new direction was set, beginning a period of renewal. Despite the limitations of the W14’s pre-existing architecture, there was tangible progress. A hard-fought, year-long battle netted second in the Constructors’ Championship. The mission continues into 2024.

“We know we have a mountain to climb to fight at the very front. There are no miracles in this sport,” Toto Wolff, Team Principal & CEO of the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team, commented. “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.”

Continued Evolution

“The design of any car is an iterative process- and a long one at that,” Technical Director James Allison explained. It stretches back to last year. A new car enables the team to make bigger, impossible alterations during the season. These decisions are made during the preceding summer.”

These changes include a new chassis and a new gearbox casing. Aerodynamically, as ever, the focus has been on efficiency. The endless quest for finding more downforce with less drag and delivering it to the track in a manner that complements the function of the suspension and tyres.

“A big focus has been improving the previous car’s unpredictable rear axle,” James continued. “We have worked hard to ensure that both axles, particularly the rear axle, retain better control of the tyre than on the W14. There’s also been some housekeeping on areas where we had room for improvement, including the DRS effect and pit stop performance.”

However, the main differentiating factors lie in the underside of the car. James added: “With this current generation of cars, so much of the performance comes from how the floor interacts with the road. Whether or not a car is practical depends on how well that floor is permitted to behave aerodynamically.

“We feel like we have had a good winter, but F1 is a relative game, and only time will tell how big a step we’ve made. We’re focused on getting the most from the car we launch, but we are excited by the development race that will follow as the regulations are still young and opportunities abound,” James concluded.

Toto added, “As the saying goes, when it stings, it sticks. The previous two years required 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 return and keep climbing.”

Reflecting Who We Are

Another visible difference with the W15 E Performance? The livery. In a year when the iconic Silver Arrows mark their 90th anniversary, the famous silver returns to complement the iconic black of recent seasons.

“Performance was always at the forefront of our minds with the black livery last year,” Toto explained. “Weight is a crucial factor in this current generation of cars. We knew that, once we were in the 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 reflects who we are as a team, with the distinctive colours of INEOS and PETRONAS providing important highlights.”

Therefore, the nose section transforms to silver, with the iconic three-pointed star pattern on the engine cover. The distinguished INEOS ‘Toto Rosso’ red features predominantly on the rear wing and roll hoop in a nod to INEOS Sport, with PETRONAS green providing a dynamic flow across the car.

Like recent news, the new livery reflects the team’s commercial strength. In recent months, blue-chip brands like SAP, WhatsApp, and Luminar have all joined the team’s partner ecosystem.

“Our commercial strategy has evolved over recent years,” Toto explained. “We have always been focused on building long-term relationships with partners that share our values and delivering a clear return on investment. We have now made the conscious decision to refine our partner ecosystem. We want to concentrate on a smaller, select group of partners to serve better and deliver their return on investment. We pride ourselves on trying to be the best in every single area, and we believe this approach is how we can achieve this with our partners.”

A Focused Driver Pairing

Behind the wheel of the W15 E Performance will be race drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.

“We’ve learnt and grown as a team over the past two seasons,” George commented. “It’s not been plain sailing, but I truly believe the journey we’ve been on will make us stronger in the long run. The whole team has been working incredibly hard, and we hope to have made a step with the W15 E Performance,” he continued.

“The lessons of the past two years have helped us find our direction,” Lewis added. They’ve enabled us to find our north star. It will still be a work in progress, but we will face whatever challenges present themselves with our heads up, with open minds, and work through them diligently.”

Dialling out the W14’s inconsistent performance and sometimes spiteful rear end has been a key technical focus. George and Lewis are clear on the rewards if the team can do so.

Lewis explained: “If you’re uncomfortable with the car, you cannot achieve maximum performance. A more stable, predictable car will enable us to extract the potential from the car and ourselves as drivers.”

“We made progress with some of the W14’s nastier characteristics throughout last year. But we still had a narrow operating window, and once we were outside that, the car was difficult to drive. If we can continue to widen the car’s operating window, that will provide confidence for us as drivers, and from there, lap time will be easier to find,” George added.

The team’s work has inspired George and Lewis over the past two years.

“F1 is a challenging sport. It’s tough to win, and that’s why we love it. Every woman and man at Brackley and Brixworth is focused on getting to the top. We will continue with that focus and dedication into 2024, and I’m excited to see where that takes us,” George said.

Lewis continued: “I know what this team is capable of. I am incredibly grateful for the work of every single person in this team. Every time you’re in the factory, you can see the sheer drive and determination of everyone. We are all mega-motivated for the year ahead and will give it everything on the journey ahead.”

Reserve Drivers Mick Schumacher and Fred Vesti will cover Lewis and George. Mick will continue in the role he held in 2023, while Fred will step up to this position after graduating from the Junior Programme.

Teamwork with HPP

Another key contributor to the journey described by Lewis and George is Mercedes AMG High-Performance Powertrains (HPP). Despite being limited to only reliability upgrades of the Power Unit, Brixworth has been focused on delivering every millisecond of performance possible under the regulations.

“We’ve worked incredibly closely with our team-mates in Brackley,” Hywel Thomas, Managing Director of HPP, explained. “We all have our piece of the jigsaw we are responsible for. We’re always looking at how we maximise our part and work together to create the strongest possible package. Despite the homologation of the Power Unit, there’s still performance we can bring.”

This can be found through the efficient integration of the Power Unit each year into the chassis and gearbox or the work on the dyno ahead of testing to ensure mileage is maximised once the W15 E Performance hits the track.

“We are focused on providing the highest-performing but also the most reliable product we can. This year, reliability is arguably even more important than in 2023.”

That is because of the record-breaking length of the 2024 calendar, which comes in at 24 races.

“It’s quite a big challenge,” Hywel admitted. “We know that not finishing races is detrimental to your points scoring, so it’s a huge focus. The change to the regulations to ensure we still have four Power Units across the season is helpful. But we know that with the longest calendar in F1 history, our ability to create the most reliable and performant product possible will still be tested.”

The current generation power unit homologation, including reduced dyno hours, is designed to allow manufacturers to look ahead to 2026. HPP is thoroughly enjoying that challenge.

“It’s excellent to have a rule set that has attracted new manufacturers and has a clear real-world relevance,” concluded Hywel. It’s a chance to showcase our talent, innovative approaches, and the possibilities the sport can bring. It’s excellent, and people smile as they tackle this project.”

The Next Step

The W15 gets its first laps at Silverstone later today. From there, the focus turns to Bahrain.

Toto 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 our progress during pre-season testing. From there, we will understand more about the challenge ahead of us. There are no crystal balls in this sport. But we will at least know the gap we aim to close. Our ambition is strong, and we’re ready to get going.”

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