THE United States Grand Prix will give us our best chance yet to see if Lewis Hamilton could catch Max Verstappen next season.
Verstappen wrapped up the title last time out in Qatar with his 14th win in this season’s 17 grands prix in a crushing display of domination.
Mercedes have been playing catch up to the Dutchman’s Red Bull team since Hamilton lost his grip on the title in 2021.
A combination of poor car design and questionable leadership meant the team followed the wrong design philosophy, with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff deciding to start from scratch.
Wolff also recalled James Allison in the role of technical director, who was charged with plotting the team’s route back to the top of the podium.
Allison has had to make-do-and-mend with the previous incarnation designed by chief technical officer Mike Elliott in order to hit the ground running in 2024.
However at this weekend’s race, Mercedes are expected to bring a host of new parts to trial in preparation for next season.
The Silver Arrows are desperate to snatch second-place in the constructors’ championship from Ferrari to signal some minor progress — and currently lead the Maranello-based team by 28 points.
If the parts which come to the table in Austin, Texas on Sunday is a new floor — arguably the most crucial aspect to this generation of F1 car — that works, then it could provide a timely boost.
Hamilton had praised the work the team have done behind the scenes and this weekend will offer us the chance to get to see it for ourselves — but more crucially, whether it works.
Elsewhere, Brit driver Oliver Bearman completed his first test for Ferrari.
The Chelmsford ace, 18, drove 400km around their Fiorano test track.
He will also drive the Ferrari-powered Haas VF-23 in the first free practice session for the Mexico City Grand Prix.