Lewis Hamilton declares testing ‘massively encouraging’ ahead of 2024 F1 season

With three days of pre-season testing in the books ahead of the 2024 Formula 1 season, it appears that nine teams are fighting behind Red Bull, much like the 2023 campaign ended.

One of those teams in the mix? Mercedes.

Coming off their second-place finish in the Constructors’ Championship a year ago, the Silver Arrows are hoping to be back in the mix in the season ahead. With testing now drawn to a close, the team is looking ahead to the start of the 2024 campaign, with the belief that their 2024 challenger is well ahead of last year’s W14.

“We’ve had three useful days here in Bahrain and managed to make good progress understanding the W15. Compared to last year’s car, the feedback from the drivers is very different and more positive, which is encouraging,” said Andrew Shovlin, the team’s Trackside Engineering Director, in the post-testing media debrief. “The team has worked hard to iron out the handling flaws that were integral to the W14, and it’s great that we seem to have put a number of those problems behind us.”

Lewis Hamilton, who drove in both sessions for Mercedes on Thursday, finished the day in P3. George Russell, who completed the afternoon session for Mercedes on the final day of pre-season testing, posted the second-fastest lap of the day, albeit on the soft C4 compound.

Still, the results led Shovlin to conclude that the team is in a much better place than they were a year ago.

“Over the course of the test we’ve made good steps on our understanding of the car. The task of the next few days is to pick through the results and put together the best package to take into the race weekend. It’s never easy to make predictions on pace from testing, as all teams are quite effective at hiding their pace when they want to. It’s clear that we are in a much better position than 12 months ago though,” added Shovlin. “We’ve got a busy few days ahead now making our final preparations for the season-opener, and we’re already looking forward to the race weekend and the season ahead.”

As for the drivers, both Russell and Hamilton concur: The W15 is a step — or two — ahead of its predecessor.

“We’re aware that there’s a lot more lap time to find. We knew that would be the case ahead of the test, and Red Bull are looking very strong once again. Nevertheless, I’m confident that we’re in a much better place than we were 12 months ago,” said Russell. “The team at Brackley and Brixworth have done a great job to get us into this position and with a car that is a step in the right direction. We now need to focus on firstly getting the most out of the package we have and secondly, adding more downforce and trying to close that gap.”

As for Hamilton, who is about to embark on his final year with Mercedes before leaving for Ferrari, he is confident heading into the season given what he has seen from the W15.

“Overall, it’s been a really good test. I’m really proud of everyone trackside and those back at the factory. Every single woman and man has been working tirelessly, both at Brackley, Brixworth, and here in Bahrain. It’s massively encouraging and great to see everyone working so well together. The focus, determination, and communication is the best I’ve ever seen,” said Hamilton.

“We know we’ve got work to do and we’re not yet where we want to be. We knew that would be the case coming into the test though,” he added. “We’ve got a great platform to build on. We’ll go away and work hard over the next couple of days to go through all the data from the test. I’m really excited for the start of the season next week and we’ll be heading into it in good shape.”

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