Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff says the gains made by both Aston Martin and McLaren this year have provided hope it can mount a challenge to Red Bull in 2024.
The German marque’s aspirations of reasserting itself as a recognised title contender this season immediately dissipated amid reoccurring problems with its launch concept and Red Bull’s extended advantage over the entire field.
Mercedes has recovered to a relatively stable second in the standings since debuting a revised car featuring a more conventional sidepod configuration in Monaco.
But the Brackley side still languishes a considerable 310 points shy of Red Bull, who could potentially wrap up the Constructors’ Championship as early as this weekend.
However, Wolff is optimistic that Mercedes can bridge the current deficit to Red Bull over the winter, citing Aston Martin and McLaren’s progress at varying points in 2023 as an example of the strides that can be made.
When asked if it’s realistic to expect Mercedes to battle Red Bull in 2024, he said: “From where we are, we just need a step like McLaren and Aston Martin have achieved in one go, not a two-tenths upgrade but a five-tenths upgrade to get back into the game, so yes I think it is possible.”
Expanding on the areas Mercedes must rectify with next year’s W14 charger, Wolff added: “I think we have a few directions; if we would know it would be much easier. The car is very unpredictable and lacks grip, so plenty of things we need to tackle.
“We tend to think in F1 that there’s a silver bullet that will unlock everything. We just need to put all the components together to make them work together in the car, so not one thing I would call out.”
Meanwhile, in the short-term, Mercedes has repeatedly issued its goal for the remainder of this campaign is to ensure it preserves second place in the standings.
The former eight-time consecutive World Champions have failed to record a podium finish at the previous four rounds but retain a healthy 45-point advantage over Ferrari.
Mercedes encountered a tough Italian Grand Prix last time out with a car carrying too much drag to challenge for a podium place.
While the team’s W14 package is expected to thrive around the high-downforce Marina Bay Circuit this weekend, Wolff is remaining cautious about Mercedes’ chances of producing a strong result in Singapore.
“From last year into this year we need to be careful with our predictions,” he asserted. “We could go high downforce, hurray, we’ll be right behind Red Bull next week.
“But we don’t know, that’s the truth. The teams from second to sixth can be pretty close together, that’s us and that’s Ferrari and McLaren and Aston Martin.
“But we are consistently scoring with two cars, we are solidly second in the championship, hopefully soon third in the Drivers’ Championship with Lewis [Hamilton], so we are delivering the best possible job considering the car’s lack of performance.”