Toto Wolff believes the original Mercedes W14 Formula 1 car was lacking "Christmas decorations" upgrades have now provided it.
Mercedes doubled down on its zero sidepod concept having run into trouble with it in 2022 for the first year of the ground effect rules, but Wolff publicly abandoned the concept after qualifying for the season-opener in Bahrain.
A revised car was introduced in Monaco with conventional sidepods, before a further floor upgrade was brought to the United States - the impact of which has been positively received by drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, with Hamilton finishing second in both the US and Mexico, although he was disqualified from the former for excessive plank wear.
The team is hoping the W14 will provide a basis for which the 2024 W15 will be able to launch a challenge to Red Bull and Max Verstappen - with Wolff believing the car is now in a much better place with which the challenge be mounted.
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"I think it is providing more downforce, more durability and the car is still a bit less tricky," Wolff explained to media including RacingNews365.
"Lewis said to me that the car is still so difficult to drive, although she's faster.
"The philosophy was important to see that we are going in the right direction for next year, and it seems to be on the right path.
"You must not forget that the car we designed didn't have the right airflow, sidepods, or leading edges and all the Christmas decorations around the design that we have now.
"The longer that you have the upgrade on the car, and collect data, the better you're going to be able to tune it.
"I don't want to set expectations too high [for Brazil] because it came as a bit of a surprise that we dominated that weekend [last year].
"We go there knowing we have a good car and if we put all the ducks in a row, then we can have a very strong weekend.
"Whether it is good enough to beat Max, their package - driver, car, power unit is just very complete at the moment, [I'm not sure]."