Oct.24 (GMM) Mercedes will not divert from its intention to build a completely different Formula 1 car for 2024, team boss Toto Wolff insists.
In Austin, Lewis Hamilton – buoyed by a new, 2024-style floor – only needed a few more laps to be able to beat Red Bull’s dominant Max Verstappen to victory.
He was then disqualified for excessive floor ‘plank’ wear, as was Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. It was not an inherent problem with the floors, but by the increasingly-bumpy surface at the US GP venue.
“It (the surface) needs to be redone because at the moment it feels like it’s better suited to a rally car,” Verstappen said after driving to victory on Sunday.
“I don’t think it’s F1 level.”
Even with his disqualification, Hamilton said he was happy to leave the United States because he could actually feel the step forward Mercedes has made.
“This is one of the first upgrades that I’ve actually felt over the last two years,” said the seven time world champion.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff agrees.
“I think we had the fastest car today, but we haven’t optimised it,” the Austrian told Sky Deutschland on Sunday.
“I hope this performance shows up later, because it’s something the sport needs. We need a few good races where there’s someone else fighting with Max.
“The new floor seems to work. In the fast corners, where at Suzuka we were terrible, we were very competitive here,” Wolff added. “It seems that the direction is right.”
He also suspects that Mercedes’ step forward actually looks more significant than it is in reality because Red Bull stopped adding upgrades some time ago.
Therefore, plans for a wholesale design change for 2024 are still on track.
“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.”
Former F1 driver Timo Glock thinks the German marque is right to be upbeat about finally having unlocked the key to the new-in-2022 ‘ground effect’ rules.
“Mercedes now understands the direction in which things need to go,” he said. “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,” Glock added. “It’s still not understandable why George Russell had problems with it.
“But they do seem to have learned enough to bring a car for next year that is on par with Red Bull right from the start, and I’m very excited about that.
“It’s also clear to me that Red Bull and all other teams are also developing further. It’s always difficult when you fall behind like they (Mercedes) have.”