“Must be tense at Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff openly expressing disappointment” | F1
Mercedes endured a difficult season-opening race in Bahrain, finishing fifth and seventh, over 50 seconds behind race winner Max Verstappen.
They left Bahrain with the fourth-quickest car on the F1 2023 grid, dropping behind customer team Aston Martin.
Mercedes’ underwhelming pace has resulted in a sensational u-turn from Wolff, who hinted that the team may adopt a new car concept later in the season.
This was backed up by a number of reports, including one from German outlet AMuS, that claimed Mercedes have two new concepts in their wind tunnel.
Writing in his post-race column for Sky Sports F1, Brundle noticed a clear change in tone from Hamilton and Wolff in Bahrain.
“It seems to me that Mercedes went the wrong way in 2022 and refuse to turn around,” Brundle wrote. “Even Lewis and Toto were openly expressing their disappointment at certain points of the weekend, and normally they only sing the praises of the teams at Brackley and Brixworth.
“It must be tense at the team right now; the quality is there it just needs direction and oxygen to calm heads.’Zero-sidepod concept’ is not the buzz phrase they’ll want to hear again, but the mantra from the team was that to change direction would necessitate a step backwards first before working up and understanding a new philosophy of aerodynamics.
“George Russell has already said that he’s prepared to suffer that pain for longer term gain.”
Mercedes were in a similar position 12 months ago, considerably off the pace of the top two teams, while also ombating the issue of porpoising.
Despite the plethora of issues, Hamilton and the rest of the team maintained a positive mindset as they looked to turn the team around.
Brundle doubts Mercedes have the “appetite” for another year of trying to cover like in 2022.
“They dogmatically turned the Mercedes into a late winning car last season, but I don’t see or hear the appetite for another year like that,” he added.
“In the early phases of the hybrid era, they had such a hugely dominant power unit – they haven’t got that anymore. When the window was open to improve the power units, they lost out. They’ve also lost key people like Andy Cowell, James Vowles, and others, with James Allison also currently focused elsewhere. The remaining talent pool is immense, but it hasn’t gelled yet.”