David Coulthard’s verdict on ‘troubled’ Mercedes with intriguing data collected

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton leads Nico Hulkenberg and George Russell, Mercedes

Mercedes have yet to record a Grand Prix podium in 2024

Winning just one Grand Prix since 2022, David Coulthard says although Mercedes are struggling, this is “one of the most competitive eras” of Formula 1.

The big winner when Formula 1 introduced turbocharged V6 engines in 2014, Mercedes went on a seven-season championship charge that included a record-equalling seventh World title for Lewis Hamilton.

‘But right now it’s troubled times’ for Mercedes

But losing the crown in 2021 to Max Verstappen, little did anyone – Mercedes included – know that would be the last season in which the Briton would win a race, never mind fight for a World title.

Although his team-mate George Russell clinched the Brazilian Grand Prix win in 2022, the first year of Formula 1’s ground-effect aerodynamic cars, it was a season in which Mercedes were blighted by porpoising.

Swapping porpoising for a lack of downforce the following season, this year it is correlation issues with the all-new W15 that are hampering the Brackley squad’s progress.

Although the numbers back in the factory read the W15 has more downforce than its predecessor, Mercedes are struggling to translate that into lap time with a car that has performance swings session by session, never mind race by race.

It has led to Toto Wolff saying “even the greatest magician” in Red Bull’s soon-to-be-free Adrian Newey would have a “hard time solving the problems”.

Six races into the championship, Mercedes have recorded a best Grand Prix result of P5, leaving the team languishing in fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship where they are 175 points behind championship-leaders Red Bull.

That they’re also 60 points engine customer team McLaren, who in Miami became the first Mercedes-powered team to win a race since Russell’s 2022 success, is also a worry.

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“It’s obviously disappointing for us all, we want to see George and Lewis Hamilton in the mix,” Coulthard told Channel 4. “Two quality drivers, one with that seven-time World Championship stamp, we know it could have been more.

“So Mercedes are having a bit of a troubled time but they’re having a troubled time in one of the most competitive eras of Formula 1.

“I think in China, the spread from pole to last was one and a half per cent.

“The difference between Usain Bolt winning the 100 metres and the guy in eighth, I don’t even remember who finished second, was two per cent. And that’s in a 100-metre race.

“So let’s keep it in perspective. You’re dealing with small margins, but that’s what Formula 1 is. It represents the very best.

“They’ve got big drivers, they just need to keep looking at the areas they can improve on that car.”

“But,” he accepted, “right now it’s troubled times.”

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