Mercedes ‘not even cautiously optimistic’ of winning return, claims Sky F1 pundit

Henry Valantine
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton runs in FP2. Canada June 2023.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton drives a flying lap during free practice. Canada June 2023.

Sky F1 pundit Danica Patrick worries that Mercedes are “not even cautiously optimistic” yet about their comeback this season, with the team preferring to not “count our chicks before they hatch”.

The former NASCAR and IndyCar driver believes the Silver Arrows are looking at their improved form in the past couple of races in a pragmatic way, despite Lewis Hamilton and George Russell having both made it onto the podium at the Spanish Grand Prix last time out.

Team principal Toto Wolff explained that the conditions in Barcelona a fortnight ago put the car in a “mega window” for optimum performance, and the characteristics of the W14 were well-suited to the medium and high-speed corners in Spain, spoken almost as caveats despite a season-best result for Mercedes.

With Hamilton and Russell having gone one-two in FP2 on Friday in Montreal, technical director James Allison was quick to add he felt the team’s times were not representative, given the conditions during the session.

With that approach, Patrick believes Mercedes are doing all they can to keep a lid on expectations as upgrades are applied to their car and performance improves.

“At the very top before FP1, I said, ‘They’re [Mercedes] not even cautiously optimistic’,” Patrick explained while on punditry duties on Sky Sports F1.

“I feel like it’s almost like a ‘well, let’s [not] count our chicks before they hatch’ kind of thing. Like, ‘okay, it’s good, but let’s be good on race day and then we can really count it.’

“I still think that obviously they’re taking big steps forward and that’s something to be excited about. I think you can feel that every now and again from them.”

PlanetF1.com recommends

Canadian Grand Prix FP3: Verstappen restores normal order ahead of wet qualifying showdown

Mercedes ‘plotting and scheming’, anticipating results ‘like waiting for Christmas’

Speaking to the media in Montreal, Allison echoed that sentiment by believing the team is simply “gently on the up”, rather than their performance jump in Spain being a sign of things to come.

“I certainly loved the good result we had in Barcelona,” he said. “That puts a smile on everyone’s face.

“Probably a little bit too soon to say that summer has arrived with that one swallow – but nevertheless, everybody enjoyed seeing a car that was going at a decent lick, looking after its tyres, scoring two podiums on merit.

“So, hopefully, we’ve turned a bit of a corner. I think this track is going to be very different in the challenges it places on a car but I think we’re gently on the up.”