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Brundle: Tense Mercedes needs 'direction and oxygen'

Martin Brundle believes things are likely “tense” at Mercedes in the wake of the outfit’s poor start to its 2023 campaign, but while the team does not lack quality, the Sky F1 commentator says it is in need of “direction and oxygen” so cooler heads can prevail.

Mercedes’ significant progress at the end of last season, marked by George Russell’s dominant win in Brazil, reinforced the Brackley squad’s conviction that its ‘zero sidepod concept’ could be retained for this season.

In its new iteration, the W14 design no longer suffers from the chronic porpoising vice of its predecessor. But a critical lack of downforce has introduced balance issues which in turn has generated tyre degradation problems.

Last weekend in Bahrain, team boss Toto Wolff acknowledged that Mercedes had gone down a rabbit home with its new car and that a drastic change of concept was perhaps in order.

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Brundle speculates that Mercedes is now in crisis mode and needs leadership and direction to right the ship.

“It seems to me that Mercedes went the wrong way in 2022 and refuse to turn around,” Brundle wrote in his column for Sky F1.

“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.”

Brundle suggests that a change of direction by Mercedes’ engineers would equate to things getting worse before they get better at the Brackley squad.

“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,” added the former F1 driver.

“George Russell has already said that he’s prepared to suffer that pain for longer term gain. 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.

“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.”

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