Intense times at Brackley –

Intense times at Brackley –


Two weeks before Mercedes unveils its 2024 contender, Chief Operating Officer, Rob Thomas admits that this is an intense time for the German team.

Still recovering from the nightmare of Abu Dhabi 2021, the German team was caught on the back foot by the 2022 rules overhaul. Unbelievably, failing to learn from its lesson, the German outfit stuck with its clearly flawed concept again last season, and thus ended the year without a single win for the first time since 2011, its second season since returning to F1 as a constructor.

To say that this season is vital for the German team would be an understatement of the highest order, and understandably, ahead of the launch and the test that follows, team members are feeling the pressure.

“There are literally thousands and thousands of components arriving, going through inspection and levels of testing,” says Chief Operating Officer, Rob Thomas. “Then they’re built into various sub-assemblies for the test and development department, who’ll put them through tests for fatigue, reliability and performance.

“It’s a really intense time for people in the factory,” he admits, “because these departments are operating on shift patterns 24/7.

“People show huge levels of commitment. There’s so much going on and everything must come together for these deadlines.”

Thomas has been with Mercedes since the start, and admits that over the years he’s witnessed a massive improvement behind the scenes at its Brackley HQ.

“There were detailed plans, but they weren’t really respected,” he says of the early days. “A lot of internal dates were a bit optional, and we’d do our best to hit those deadlines, but generally we didn’t. Things got later and later and what you ended up with was people working in a chaotic firefighting way, trying to get parts together.

“We wouldn’t get either the result we needed from performance or reliability either,” he admits. “That all leads to going to the first races in a massively sub-optimal condition, not getting the learning you want and leading to people being burnt out.”


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