July 23, 2024

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes endured a testing end to the 2023 season, and next year could bring more of the same.

Toto Wolff has admitted that beating Red Bull in either championship next season would be ‘against the odds’. The reigning constructor champions have been able to send resources towards their 2024 challenger throughout the season, such has been the extent of their pace advantage over the rest of the field in 2023.

Mercedes ended the season in second place in the Constructors’ Championship standings after beating rivals Ferrari by three points thanks to George Russell’s heroics at the final race in Abu Dhabi. However, this came as little consolation to the eight-time champions given the size of the deficit to Red Bull at the top.

With the exception of one, Christian Horner’s squad, who are currently reigning champions, finished with an unprecedented 860 points in 2023 after winning all 22 Grands Prix. That total was more than twice as high as Mercedes’s second-place finish.

Hamilton, on the other hand, led the field in P3 during the Drivers’ Championship but was unable to win a single race as his winless streak continued past the two-year mark. Max Verstappen, who won his third consecutive title in spectacular fashion, finished 341 points ahead of the seven-time world champion.

Following the season finale in Abu Dhabi, Wolff declared, “Red Bull started these regulations in 2022 with a massive advantage and was able to maintain it.” “You have to be very respectful of what the driver and the engineering team have accomplished. It is evident that beating them under the current rules is unlikely to succeed.

There is still hope for the Silver Arrows despite this cautious approach to the development possibilities for the upcoming season. At the beginning of the 2023 season in Bahrain, McLaren had the slowest car on the grid; however, by the end of the season in Abu Dhabi, they had moved up to fourth place in the standings and were a consistent presence on the podium.

“At the same time, we’ve seen with McLaren, an update unlocked a second in lap time or AlphaTauri coming strong at the end and Aston Martin over the winter,” Wolff added in response to this.

“There is a way to unlock significantly more performance, but if we are being realistic about our assessment, this car will never be competitive enough to contend for a championship.

If that’s possible, we made the decision in the spring that we needed to start over and create something fresh for the following year. But before us stands Mount Everest.

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