McLaren boss Andrea Stella has agreed with Christian Horner’s theory that Mercedes will make a strong comeback next season as the 2024 development race gets underway. The Silver Arrows are enduring a tough end to the current campaign.
Mercedes have been restricted from fighting for the podium with the likes of Ferrari, Aston Martin and McLaren this season while Red Bull have been untouched at the front of the field. The Brackley-based team had a race-winning car in Singapore but failed to improve after losing to Ferrari in qualifying.
The W14 has proved unpredictable all season with Lewis Hamilton and George Russell both struggling to get consistent performances from the pack. At Suzuka – a track that is often the best gauge of a car’s true performance – Mercedes were behind McLaren and Ferrari.
Stella, however, is not concerned about Toto Wolff’s clothing. He said: “We don’t know if we’re growing faster than other teams. And above all, we don’t know if we’re growing faster than Red Bull.
“And let’s not forget that Mercedes, I think they realized what they need to work on. And I suspect they will jump back quite strongly. There are no elements of truth at this stage to say this is the order we will see next year. I think things can change.”
This prediction is in line with that of Horner, who also expects the Silver Arrows to battle their 2024 rival. The Silver Arrows have confirmed they are pursuing a completely different design philosophy for the W15 after the failed ‘zeropod’ trial which put the W14 on the back foot from the challenge .
Speaking to Sky Sports on Mercedes’ prospects moving forward, Horner explained: “For me, the game is about competition. It’s good to be competitive. There must be respect, but sport is not sport without competition.
“Obviously we haven’t seen much of him in the last few years but I’m sure he’s plotting. I’m sure he has something they’re working on. They are a great team. They are a great team. They have great drivers. They will be looking to fight.”
While Wolff will no doubt be eyeing a possible title challenge in 2024, Mercedes must first fend off the threat of Ferrari, who are 20 points clear of the Silver Arrows following strong results in Singapore and Japan.