And then it clicked; Mercedes explain their return to the top of the F1 grid

09 July 2024 - 09:08 By Reuters
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Mercedes, fourth in the standings, and Ferrari, second behind Red Bull, are so far the only teams to have won with both their drivers in a season with six different winners already in 12 races.
Mercedes, fourth in the standings, and Ferrari, second behind Red Bull, are so far the only teams to have won with both their drivers in a season with six different winners already in 12 races.
Image: Vince Mignott/MB Media

Mercedes have won more races over the past two grand prix weekends than in the past two years and team boss Toto Wolff said the turnaround owed much to a moment when it all “just clicked”.

The former Formula One champions, winners of an unprecedented eight successive constructors' titles from 2014-2021, took only one win in 2022 and none in 2023 when Red Bull were rampant.

Then victory fell into the lap of George Russell in Austria after Red Bull's triple champion Max Verstappen and McLaren's Lando Norris collided, and Lewis Hamilton won his home British GP on Sunday.

“Five races ago we weren't contenders for the podium, which looked like the third year of non-performance, and then it clicked,” Wolff told reporters after the race at Silverstone.

“Suddenly everything that didn't make sense, made sense and the results of the development direction is like in the old days.

“We are finding performance, we are putting it on the car and it translates into lap time and that wasn't the case for the past two years.”

Wolff attributed much of the credit to technical director James Allison, who returned to a hands-on role last year as Mercedes grappled with a recalcitrant car that refused to perform as expected.

Allison said recently the team's performance breakthrough had left them wondering how they had been so “dumb” in not understanding the car's problems earlier.

“There was a moment where, led by James, suddenly the data made sense, and the gap,” said Wolff. “Mainly the way we balance the car and how we could bring it in a better sweet spot. That was the main thing.

“It wasn't a miracle front wing, it is more the balance we achieved.”

Mercedes will have upgrades for the next two races in Hungary and Belgium.

Hamilton, 39, started on pole position at the Hungaroring last season.

Mercedes, fourth in the standings, and Ferrari, second behind Red Bull, are so far the only teams to have won with both their drivers in a season with six different winners already in 12 races.

“The car is starting to come alive and feel great,” said Hamilton, who is joining Ferrari next season, after his first win since 2021 and a record-extending 104th of his career.

“By no means is the car the quickest car on the grid,” he said.

“We are super close and hopefully with the next upgrade perhaps we will be in a stronger position to fight at the front row more consistently.”


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