George Russell wants to see the Mercedes W14 in contention for wins by race six, from which stage the big points are on offer.
The F1 2023 season is now just over the horizon. Bahrain pre-season testing is complete and the Bahrain International Circuit is where the teams and drivers shall return in a matter of days to get the new campaign underway.
There we will see the true pecking order for the start of this season come to light, and Russell expects that it will show a Red Bull team, the defending Constructors’ champs and home of the reigning Drivers’ Champion, that is still looking mighty strong.
But, Russell does not believe it is vital that Mercedes start the F1 2023 campaign on their level, it is more about their potential to join that title picture, and from Round 6 at Imola onwards, is where he says the most damage can be done in that regard.
“I think we have got to go in [to the season] with a bit of an open mind,” said Russell, as per GPFans.
“I don’t want to sit here and say Mercedes is back because that is totally unfair and from what we have seen, Red Bull is very, very strong.
“What I can say is I have got the best team in the business and everyone is working flat out to get Mercedes back on top.
“When you look at the calendar as a whole, I think we have only got five races in the first two and a half, three months whereas at the end of the season you have probably got 10 or 11 in the same time span.
“So this season is going to be won or lost midway-to-end of the season, not in the first five races.
“As much as we want to go out there and win in Bahrain next weekend, we know that it is more important that we have the right car in the right window come race six, because that is when the big points are going to be won.”
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Indeed, the Mercedes W14 is set to evolve
There had been chatter of a B-spec W14 being in the pipeline should Mercedes decide to divert away from their zero-pod philosophy, but while the team has denied that rumour, this does not mean that bodywork changes are off the table. Indeed, “that’s on its way,” said the Brackley squad.
With this updated bodywork set to create a different look to the Bahrain GP W14, yet a creation still unique to Mercedes, Russell will hope that its arrival sends the team into the true deep waters of F1 2023 with the ability to keep their heads above water in this title fight.
It is at this point also when we will see how well Red Bull really can handle the slashing of their wind tunnel time. Can they use what they have wisely enough to hold off a potential Mercedes charge? Good to have you back Formula 1!