Red Bull simulator driver Jake Dennis claims that Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes need to find a second per lap ‘overnight’ or forget about beating Max Verstappen to the 2024 world title. The Silver Arrows, along with Ferrari and McLaren, have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to try and close the gap on last season’s dominant champions.
When the curtain fell on the 2023 campaign, Verstappen had more than twice as many points as his nearest competitor, and Red Bull had more than twice as many points as second-place team Mercedes.
“I think it’s going to be quite a dull season in Formula 1 with Max probably dominating. I’d be lying if I said we didn’t switch our attention to the 2024 car quite quickly. We didn’t do any development on the 2023 car after Singapore [in September].”
Of the seven Grands Prix to take place after Singapore, Verstappen won every single one of them. The Dutchman blew away the competition by 19 seconds in Japan, 18 seconds in Abu Dhabi and 14 seconds in Mexico.
Mercedes therefore have their work cut out to hand Hamilton a car capable of fighting for his first Grand Prix win since 2021. The Brit, 39, is chasing down an eighth world title which would stand him alone at the top of the all-time charts.
Having visited the factory ahead of the new season, Hamilton explained: “I always go by the wind tunnel when I go to the factory to see it evolving in whichever direction it ends up going. As soon as I was leaving, again I popped in just to see where we were and when I come back again it’ll be a different animal.
“But I have full faith in everyone that’s working on it and I’m hopeful that we’ll be in a much more competitive position next year.”
Teams have just over a month before fans begin assessing the balance of power during several days of testing in Bahrain at the end of February. The fully-fledged season then gets underway with the Sakhir Grand Prix on March 2.