Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton ready to break Red Bull’s win streak

Mercedes technical director James Allison is confident in the upward trajectory and ongoing upgrades.

Mercedes’ technical director, James Allison, has expressed the team’s determination to bridge the gap and challenge Red Bull for race victories in the current Formula 1 season. 

Red Bull has been the dominant force, winning all eight races so far in their formidable RB19. 

However, Mercedes and other teams in the chasing pack have made improvements that aim to close the distance to the runaway World Championship leaders.

Allison believes that Mercedes, an eight-time Constructors’ champion, can re-establish themselves at the front of the grid this year as long as they continue their upward trajectory. 

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While Max Verstappen has comfortably secured victory in the past four races, Mercedes showed promise in Canada, with Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton keeping him in check. Red Bull acknowledged that their rivals were closer than in previous rounds.

Mercedes has planned significant upgrades for the W14, set to debut at the British Grand Prix, as part of their comprehensive overhaul of the car’s concept that began in Monaco. 

While Lewis Hamilton has urged the team to keep an eye on next season, Allison is confident that Mercedes can challenge Red Bull later this year if they continue to upgrade their car successfully. 

However, their ultimate target remains the ability to battle at the front from the start of the 2024 season.

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“There’s no reason why it won’t happen this season, as long as we’re able to keep improving our car,” Allison told Auto Motor und Sport.

“The challenge is to do that and at the same time build up enough knowledge so that we can do it next season right from the start.”

Mercedes’ struggles since the introduction of the ground effect era in 2022 can be attributed, in part, to their initial design approach of running the car “on the deck,” as described by team principal Toto Wolff. 

This approach aimed to maximise the new aerodynamics by keeping the car as close to the ground as possible. 

However, they encountered unintended consequences, including the issue of “porpoising,” which caused the car to bounce due to the downforce generated underneath it at high speed.

As a result, Mercedes had to raise the ride height of the car, prompting a shift in their design approach for the W14. 

Allison noted that they are now getting closer to mastering the ride height track by track and are continually improving in this aspect.

“Last year’s model was designed with the naive assumption that we could drive it as low as possible, then we found out that wasn’t possible,” Allison explained. 

“When we had to go higher, we were outside the range where the aerodynamics work optimally.

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“As the season went on, we learned how to get more out of the car by going higher. 

“This year, we have a better handle on how low we can go before we get into trouble. 

“We’re not perfect there yet, but we’re getting closer to perfection.”