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‘How could we be so dumb?!’ – Allison on the Mercedes revelation that means they can now ‘be as fast as anybody’

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BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 29: James Allison, Technical Director at Mercedes GP looks on in the

Mercedes’ first pole position in over a year at the 2024 Canadian Grand Prix signalled a massive turnaround in fortunes for the Silver Arrows – with the team’s Technical Director James Allison admitting that both he and the team should have seen the solutions to their problems earlier.

After claiming eight straight constructors’ titles from 2014 to 2021, Mercedes have struggled in Formula 1’s new ground effect era rules that came into force in 2022, the team having claimed just one Grand Prix victory in that time.

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Light, however, appeared to have shone through in Montreal as George Russell – using an upgraded front wing the team brought to Monaco – claimed pole position, before racing to P3 in the Grand Prix.

Speaking on F1’s Beyond The Grid podcast, Allison was asked whether the updates to the car had been the result of a “eureka” moment that had allowed Mercedes to suddenly find performance with the previously truculent W15.

“This is more of an ‘oh God, how could we have been so dumb?!’ type moment, where you see the path forward and you should have seen it sooner!” Allison replied.

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“The thing that has bedevilled us from the start of the year was that you could get the car okay in a slow corner, you could get it quite decent in a fast corner, but you couldn't get it good in both at the same time.

“What has changed in the last two or three races is that we've modified the car in such a way that it actually has a reasonable high to low-speed balance and a reasonable through-corner balance.

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“It just means that the driver can trust both the front and rear axle in a fast corner and a slow corner and can trust it from when he hits the brakes at the beginning of the corner, all the way through the apex and out the other side.

“That balance is crucial to a driver, that they know whether the car is going to understeer or oversteer, and that it's going to follow the trajectory they're asking.”

MONTREAL, QUEBEC - JUNE 09: George Russell of Great Britain driving the (63) Mercedes AMG Petronas

Russell netted Mercedes' first Grand Prix podium of 2024 in Montreal

The changes to the W15 appear to have instilled a new-found confidence in Mercedes, with Allison bullish when asked how the rest of the team’s season could pan out from here – starting with this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.

“I think that we can definitely get the car this season to be properly competitive and to fear no tracks,” he said. “I think that the specifics of [Montreal] might make our fans think prematurely that we're already there.

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“[Montreal] has quite a low range of cornering speeds in it and it tests the car maybe slightly less severely than some of the others that are coming up. While I'm pretty sure that we will make a good showing in the nearby future races, I'd be surprised if we're on pole at the next one, for example.

“But I am absolutely certain that we can be as fast as anybody over the coming period.”

Mercedes arrive in Barcelona fourth in the constructors’ standings, 177 points behind leaders Red Bull.

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