The past two seasons must have been painful for Mercedes. The team dominated from 2014 through 2020 but the Silver Arrows struggled to make sense of the newest regulations and saw the unique zeropod concept fail. So now the task is to pick up the pieces and take a big step forward this term.
The squad is confident this will happen. Improvement was visible by the end of 2023 after the zeropods were ditched and, after Mercedes introduced a new floor in the United States, a further boost was given. It wasn't always reflected in the results, but Lewis Hamilton and George Russell were appreciative of the developments.
Mercedes ticked another important box this winter off-track as Team Principal Toto Wolff and Technical Director James Allison extended their contracts to be around when new regulations are once again introduced in 2026.
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Red Bull has dominated almost every facet of F1 in the past two seasons - especially last term where only Carlos Sainz prevented a clean sweep of race victories for Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.
But speaking to RACER, Allison has revealed his confidence the gap can be bridged: "We are hopeful that the lesser characteristics of the rear wing and handling will be a bit more preferable for us.
"We've only seen that in the simulations for now, but it's plausible that we've made some gains on the rear wing. And then you also have all the regular work to make the car lighter, give it more downforce and hopefully get a little bit more power by calibrating the engine. You can still do that under the current regulations."
Engines are in principle no longer allowed to be further developed, but of course, as a manufacturer, reliability improvements may provide a performance boost. But while Allison knows what Mercedes should be able to show, the mystery of rivals' performance deters too much confidence.
"On a technical level, I don't think any team in this period has ever been anything but worried, besides excited or whatever," said Allison.
"I think you have to be psychotic to have a lot of confidence because you only know one side of the story."