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Mercedes’ Struggles Have Continued Into 2024

Mercedes did not make the greatest impression at the Saudi Arabian GP, as they finished P6 and P9 in the race.

Mercedes have been making headlines for all the wrong reasons since the introduction of the new regulations in the 2022 season. The W13 and W14 were disappointing cars, to say the least. Especially as per the usual standards that Mercedes had set in the recent past. This season, the W15 hasn’t proved to be much of an improvement as of yet.

Mercedes are considered to have one of the strongest lineups on the grid, with F1 centurion Lewis Hamilton and young talent George Russell. They have a rich history, a successful team principal Toto Wolff and an exemplary technical director James Alison. Alongside their driver pairing one would expect Mercedes to be dictating the pace. Or at the very least, right up there with the best of the best.

These past few seasons, however, have been a different story altogether. So much so, that Mercedes have lost their most successful driver ever. Lewis Hamilton will be joining Scuderia Ferrari for the 2025 season and beyond. Before the shocking news about his move, Hamilton had just signed a contract extension with the Silver Arrows. He had also indicated on multiple occasions that he planned to end his career at Mercedes.

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It appears that the massive confidence Hamilton had in his team has diminished, as he sets his eyes on red. With Ferrari so far performing better than Mercedes this season, doubts about Hamilton’s decision might as well be put to rest.

No impressions in qualifying

Mercedes have rarely been a threat in qualifying since 2022. Just like in the previous two seasons, one-lap speed is not Mercedes’ greatest strength, or near it.

Watching Mercedes in Q2 is like being jump-scared, as they often look like they could not make it through to Q3. Mercedes are often seen around the danger zones in qualifying, and rarely ever challenge for a front-row start.

In Bahrain, Russell qualified P3, just 3 tenths off of Max Verstappen’s pole time. However, in Saudi Arabia, he could only manage P7, over a second behind Verstappen who claimed pole yet again. As for Hamilton, the Brit had revealed a few months ago that he hasn’t been performing as per his standards in qualifying. This season, it’s once again evident, as he only managed P9 and P8 in Bahrain and Jeddah respectively.

Hamilton’s defensive masterclass serves as a silver lining

In Bahrain, Russell was on the run for a podium finish early in the race. However, overheating issues hindered his chances. Hamilton also faced the same problem and claimed that his battery was only 1% at one point. P5 and P7 were all Russell and Hamilton could manage by the end of the race. Despite the disappointing results and the overheating issues, the drivers were happy to learn that the W15 is reliable.

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As for the Saudi Arabian GP at Jeddah, Hamilton was the centre of attention for most of the race. Hamilton started the race on mediums and opted not to pit during the safety car unlike most of his colleagues. He instead continued and did 36 laps on his mediums. Mercedes eventually called him into the pits for softs. On his 36-lap-old mediums, the F1 legend displayed his expertise by defending beautifully against the McLaren of Oscar Piastri who had a difficult time getting past Hamilton. Hamilton eventually finished the race in P8.

Russell who started the race in P7, finished the race P6 after a well-driven race by the young Brit. Arguably, had both Mercedes’ performed better in qualifying, they would have been in better positions by the end of Saturday’s race. However, what is quite obvious, is that Mercedes are behind Red Bull and Ferrari, and is just not close enough yet. McLaren appears to also be ahead of Mercedes, however, the gap between the two teams is closer. It must be noted, however, that McLaren were able to close the gap quite impressively last season, and could do it again this season.

On a positive note, Hamilton was able to hold his own on old mediums. This is not only a testament to the talent Mercedes have, but proof that tyre degradation is not a problem for the Brackley team. Hamilton has voiced his concerns over the W15, as have Russell and Wolff. Whether the changes that will be made over the course of the season will help the team make positive strides is a tale yet to be told.


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