The speed at which Mercedes have fallen from being the all conquering force in Formula One, to what is at best a mid-field outfit has been astonishing.
Simon Lazenby of Sky F1 described Mercedes’s performance in Bahrain qualifying and their race result as “quite frightening.”
Mercedes hopes for F1 2023 are futile
Lewis Hamilton hauled the W14 round in the final session of qualifying to finish just 7th a whopping 3/4 of a second behind pole sitter Max Verstappen. The gap to pole was even bigger than in 2022 when Hamilton eventually claimed the last step on the podium as the chequered fag fell.
As if to make matters worse, Bahrain is a circuit where the Mercedes car goes relatively well. Whilst the team plan to bring upgrades to Imola worth 3/10ths of a second, the Italian circuit saw Hamilton lapped last season with barely half of the race run.
Hamilton was the best of the Mercedes duo in Bahrain but finished over 50 seconds behind the race winner Verstappen who had been told after the first stint to moderate his pace.
Wolff calls for complete rethink
Toto Wolff all but abandoned all hope that the W14 car will amount to much this season when he declared after qualifying:
“I don’t think this package is going to be competitive eventually,” Wolff said.
“We gave it our best shot all over the winter, and now we just need to all regroup and sit down with the engineers, who are totally not dogmatic about anything.
“There are no holy cows and we need to decide what is the development direction that we want to pursue, in order to be competitive to win races.
Russell pessimistic about winning a race
George Russell was even more depressed by the situation declaring that the Red Bull pairing will win all of the 23 races this season.
The meeting Wolff called in Brackley this week came with an ultimatum for the team’s technical director, Mike Elliot.
According to The Objective, Mercedes HQ in Stuttgart have demanded the team improve in Jeddah and Australia or they will instruct the Brixworth F1 power unit arm of the brand to give their primary support to Aston Martin.
Stuttgart tell Brixworth to favour Aston Martin
The Aston Martin brand is part owned by Mercedes and Stuttgart are believed to be favouring the opportunity to improve the image of the stricken British sports car marque via their AMG F1 performance division.
Rumours abound over whether Lewis Hamilton has held off signing a new contract beyond this year with Mercedes while he sees how the team deal with the present crisis.
Lewis’s only realistic hope of another top F1 drive would be if Ferrari were to terminate Carlos Sainz relatively short contract and hope a ‘dream team’ combination of LeClerk and Hamilton could bring back glory to Maranello.
Hamilton hopes of 8th WDC in tatters
This weeks Sky podcast saw incredulous pundits discussing in Mercedes, how the mighty have fallen.
“All dynasties fall, don’t they?,” observed Lazenby “That’s what has happened at Mercedes.
“Who they’ve lost over the last two or three years and what they’ve got left, having got the concept wrong and Red Bull getting it right, I don’t think that helps matters.
“You’ve lost James Vowles, you’ve lost Andy Cowell, you’ve lost James Allison. And more than that they lost about 15 engineers to the Red Bull Powertrains project.”
The problem Mercedes AMG F1 have is there are no quick fixes to their woes. Their technical team clearly needs to be bolstered, but with garden leave together with the lead time it takes to design and build a car, their best hope of returning to th front is surely for 2026 when the next big regulation change occurs within Formula One.