‘Exciting times’ ahead for Mercedes as team-mate dynamics come into play

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton congratulates Mercedes team-mate George Russell at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Baku, May 2023.

Lewis Hamilton congratulates Mercedes team-mate George Russell at the 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

On the podium with both cars in Spain, pundit Naomi Schiff is “really exciting” to see how the Mercedes team-mate dynamic plays out now that there’s potentially more at stake.

Last time out at the Circuit de Catalunya, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell recorded the team’s best result of this season as they crossed the line second and third in the B-spec W14.

The weekend, though, wasn’t without issues as Hamilton and Russell clashed in qualifying when the latter closed the door on his team-mate with Hamilton left with a broken front wing, but grateful that it wasn’t worse than that.

Mercedes billed it as a miscommunication but pundits aren’t so sure with Ralf Schumacher saying the “young challenger wants to replace the top dog”, before adding to Sky Deutschland: “They don’t get along that well privately either.”

Le Mans winner Richard Bradley called it “unforgivable” and told the On Track GP podcast, launched in collaboration between PlanetF1.com and DR Sports, that he was amazed Russell “wasn’t handed his P45 on the spot for that. That could have been like an aircraft crash.”

But with both drivers agreeing it was a miscommunication, the rest of the weekend progressed without incident with the two quickly over to congratulate one another after their double podium on Sunday.

Should Mercedes’ Spanish Grand Prix fight-back prove not to be a false dawn, Schiff says things could get interesting at Mercedes.

“It is a strong dynamic,” she told Sky Sports F1 of the Mercedes team-mates.

“They’ve obviously been struggling for almost a year and a half, not having the performance they wanted and I think they’ve had to really all come together to get this result to where it is today.

“But I’m going to be really excited to see how that dynamic potentially shifts when they’ll be racing one-on-one against each other on track. It’s going to be exciting times.”

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Like many fans, and also those reporting on Formula 1 this season, Schiff was happy to see signs of a recovery from Mercedes who overhauled their car ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix.

Putting out a B-spec car with a new front suspension, floor and sidepod concept, Hamilton and Russell were in the points in Monaco before stepping onto the podium in Spain.

“I think what’s really nice to see,” Schiff said, “is that we’ve seen even at the beginning of the season words from Toto like ‘this is the worst race day ever’ in his entire career, for them to turn that around from Bahrain to where we are now with a car that wasn’t designed to be running the sidepods and the floor and the anti-dive suspension at the front the way it is, it’s a compromised car so the fact that they’ve got it running in the window that they have now, ultimately leaves everybody with a lot of hope for what car they can produce for the next season.”

Mercedes are up to second in this year’s Constructors’ Championship, pulling out an 18-point lead over Aston Martin.