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Mercedes explain "frustrating" early-season form

Being outperformed by Aston Martin in early 2023 was a galling experience for Mercedes, says James Allison.

Hamilton Silverstone
To news overview © XPBimages

Mercedes' Technical Director James Allison says the Silver Arrows had been frustrated at their early-season inability to keep pace with Aston Martin.

After a disappointing start to the season, with only one podium finish across the first six Grands Prix and a gulf in performance to Red Bull, Allison switched roles with Mike Elliott.

That move saw Allison return as Technical Director just 20 months after having initially handed over the role to Elliott before becoming Chief Technical Officer.

The job swap allows Allison to take a more hands-on role in overseeing the production and development of F1 machinery, and has coincided with an upturn in form for Mercedes, which now sits second in the Constructors' Championship, 51 points clear of Aston Martin.

Aston Martin has a deal to receive customer engines, gearboxes and rear suspension parts from Mercedes, and has also been using the wind tunnel facilities at Brackley while its own has been under construction at Silverstone.

Despite their customer status, Aston Martin had generally been faster than Mercedes at the beginning of the year, and Allison noted it had been infuriating to see the Silverstone team outperform the Silver Arrows.

"At the start of the year we were fourth quickest, looking at our customers who were beating us, and that was frustrating. Ferrari were beating us too," Allison said.

"Little by little we are gradually putting them behind us.

"Although it falls short of our initial aims, securing P2 nevertheless really matters for all of us, especially in the second half of the season when the tone will be shifting to the [2024 car, the] W15."

Mercedes shifting focus to 2024 car

Unlike Aston Martin, who said recently that they would continue to develop their 2023 challenger for the rest of the year, Allison noted that Mercedes has elected to switch development focus to their 2024 car.

"At this stage of the year, the wind tunnel is heavily focused on 2024," said Allison.

"Large chunks of the drawing office, vehicle dynamics, manufacturing for long-lead time production items are starting to gather their skirts.

"From the summer break onwards, next year's car is where the largest call is answered, but that also gives opportunities for the W14 too."

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