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Mercedes launch new-look 2024 Formula 1 car, the W15, as they bid to 'climb mountain' and challenge Red Bull

The final Mercedes that Lewis Hamilton will drive before leaving for Ferrari has been unveiled as the former champions change design approach and also reveal a revamped livery for 2024; watch pre-season testing live from February 21 on Sky Sports F1

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff outlines the key changes implemented on the car and his hopes for the 2024 Formula One season.

Mercedes have unveiled the heavily-revised car - described as a "complete relaunch" - which they hope will allow them to scale the "mountain" and catch Red Bull in Formula 1 2024.  

In addition to the long-expected changes in car concept for the W15, a reworked livery has also been revealed by the team with Mercedes' traditional silver returning on the car's nose, plus the green of title sponsor Petronas, to go alongside the black of recent seasons.

The car will also be the 12th and final one that Lewis Hamilton drives for the team after the shock announcement at the start of the month that he enacted a break clause in his new two-year Mercedes contract to leave for Ferrari for 2025.

Mercedes W15

"Obviously it's going to be our last season with Lewis so we are keen on really bringing a quick car," said team boss Toto Wolff after Mercedes failed to win a race for the first time in 11 years in 2023 and only one in 2022.

Hamilton was alongside Wolff and team-mate George Russell at the launch event from Silverstone in his first public appearance since news of his Ferrari switch emerged.

"It's obviously been emotional," said Hamilton of recent weeks. "It's very surreal to be here given I came in 2013, so 11 years with the team, starting my 12th.

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Lewis Hamilton reflects on his time at Mercedes as he awaits his final season with the team before moving to Ferrari

"This is the first time I have seen the car come together as a whole but to know everything that's underneath the hood, which people won't get to see but George and I will experience on the track, it's exciting."

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Hamilton and Russell, starting his third year at Mercedes, complete their first laps in the W15 at the British GP venue later on Wednesday. The car and team will then head to Bahrain next week for pre-season testing on February 21-23, with all three days of crucial track running live on Sky Sports F1.

Image: George Russell heads out of the garage for a first taste of the new W15 at Silverstone

Wolff said that the W15 represents a "complete relaunch" of the team's approach to the current era of regulations which has been absolutely dominated by rivals Red Bull, who won 21 of last season's 22 races, since the start of 2022.

"We know we have a mountain to climb to fight at the very front. There are no miracles in this sport," admitted co-owner Wolff, who signed a new three-year deal during the winter to also stay in his long-held team principal and CEO roles as he bids to spearhead Mercedes' attempt to get back to the front of the grid.

"But our ambition and determination are strong.

"Since charting this new course, development has progressed well. We had several items on our priority list for this car. We will soon see if we've made the step we've aimed for."

James Allison, the team's technical director, said: "We feel like we have had a good winter, but F1 is a relative game and only time will tell how big a step we've made.

"We're focused on getting the most from the car we launch, but we are excited by the development race that will follow as the regulations are still young and opportunities abound."

Mercedes W15
Mercedes W15
Mercedes W15

Mercedes explain 'complete relaunch' on W15

Even before learning that this would be Hamilton's final season at Brackley, Mercedes knew they faced a hugely significant year ahead of them in 2024 after two years of under-achievement since F1's technical rules were overhauled.

It was almost a year ago, after the 2023 season's first qualifying session in Bahrain - when their new car qualified 0.6s adrift of Max Verstappen's Red Bull on pole position - that Wolff publicly admitted that Mercedes were not on the road back to success with the design approach they had taken with the W13 and W14 ground-effect cars and needed to make wholesale changes moving forward.

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George Russell looks ahead to a thrilling 2024 Formula One season and in excited to try get Mercedes back on top again.

While this fed into their approach to upgrades to the W14 for the rest of last season - with the unique but ultimately unsuccessful 'zero-sidepod' concept abandoned from May's Monaco GP - and they finished a respectable second in the Constructors' Championship ahead of Ferrari, who certainly finished the year with the faster car, the team stressed that it could not fully get on a different development path until this year's brand-new W15.

"This is a complete relaunch of a car," explained Wolff.

"This is very different. Not only on the aerodynamic surfaces but mainly underneath, there are so many mechanical changes that we have done which we hope are going to translate into more performance, more predictability and a car that the drivers can really push.

"We will see it next week in Bahrain."

Mercedes have changed the chassis design for 2024 and focused on developing a car which gives the drivers more consistent and predictable rear downforce in order to attack corners with confidence.

Allison, who returned to the hands-on technical director role midway through last year in a job-swap with Mike Elliott, who has since left the team, said: "A big focus has been on improving the previous car's unpredictable rear axle.

"We have worked hard to ensure that both axles, but particularly the rear axle, retain better control of the tyre than on the W14. There's also been some housekeeping on areas in which we had room for improvement, including the DRS effect, and pit stop performance."

And in what appear to be widespread changes in particular on the crucial floor and associated areas underneath the car, where Red Bull have proved so strong, Allison added: "With this current generation of cars, so much of the performance comes from how the floor interacts with the road.

"Whether or not a car is effective is down to how well that floor is permitted to behave aerodynamically."

What are Mercedes' targets for 2024? Hamilton: 'The focus is first'

Such was Red Bull's advantage last year - they won all but one of the 22 races and won their second successive Constructors' Championship at a canter, scoring more than double second-placed Mercedes' points - that all of their immediate rivals have so far played a cautious hand when talking about whether they can mount a full-scale challenge to the world champions immediately when the new season begins in Bahrain on February 29-March 2.

"Our aim is to consolidate our positions towards Ferrari and McLaren, sometimes Aston Martin, and be at the forward part of that group in the same time as trying to race at the very front," said Wolff.

"This is our aim, we are trying to do so, but at the same time we know how difficult it is because you are a step behind your main competitor that has got it right from the get-go.

"But we love the challenge and that's why I am so eager, and all of us are so eager, to see the car finally driving."

Mercedes in F1 2024

Driver Lewis Hamilton
Driver George Russell
Team boss Toto Wolff
Car name W15
Engine Mercedes
2023 championship finish 2nd
Best championship finish 1st (x8)
Race wins 125
Podiums 289

Hamilton has gone two years without a win since the controversial end to the 2021 season but said his focus for 2024 was geared towards helping the team return to the front.

"The focus through the whole of winter training is 'first' - getting the team back to where we once were," said the seven-time world champion, who is chasing an outright-record eighth title.

"We have had these difficult couple of years which I think has been really grounding for us. It has helped us regroup, we have had to really look at things, and it's now just going through the important process of being really diligent with our work, understanding the data, understanding the car, maximising from practice.

"Even the one lap we might get in the rain today might give George and I a bit of a feeling of what's to come."

Russell, who took Mercedes' only win of the current era in Brazil in 2022 but experienced an inconsistent second campaign with them, says the team are energised to get back to the front.

"So many people there [at the team's factories in Brackley and Brixworth] are winners and champions but there are also so many new people there who are so motivated to take Mercedes back to the very top and I think that combination brings this fire within," said Russell.

"Everybody is just so excited, motivated and working so, so hard.

"Seeing the car here as one is an exciting moment but none of that matters until it hits the track and we see what the lap times produce."

When is F1 pre-season testing?

Pre-season testing takes place from Wednesday February 21 to Friday February 23 at the Bahrain International Circuit with just three days for the teams to get prepared for the new season.

When is the first F1 race?

Just one week later, the opening race of the 2024 season will begin with the Bahrain Grand Prix from February 29 to March 2.

Due to the Muslim holy period of Ramadan, the Bahrain and, seven days later, the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, will be held on a Saturday.

This means practice one and two will take place on Thursdays, with final practice and qualifying on Fridays.

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Watch pre-season testing from Bahrain live on Sky Sports F1 from February 21-23 and every round of the new season, starting with the Bahrain Grand Prix from February 29-March 2. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership

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