While Mercedes are not happy with their current place in the F1 2023 pecking order, George Russell teased a major upturn in form to come.
It is safe to say that Mercedes were a little rattled by the difficulties which they encountered at the season opener in Bahrain.
Hoping that the off-season would allow them to regroup following a tough 2022, and return to contending for regular wins in F1 2023, instead what arrived in Bahrain was a P5 finish for Lewis Hamilton and a P7 for Russell.
That led to Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff writing off the W14 concept and ordering a new one, with a major upgrade believed to be on the way.
The Saudi Arabian GP was at least a more positive outing for Mercedes, Russell finishing P4 and Hamilton P5 comfortably ahead of Ferrari, though to be slower than Aston Martin in race trim and well adrift of the dominant Red Bull team is still a performance level well below the team’s expectations.
However, Russell warns the likes of Red Bull, Aston Martin and Ferrari that they should expect a big performance boost to come for Mercedes.
“We want to take the positives away from this weekend,” Russell told Sky Sports F1. “We qualified ahead of Ferrari and Aston.
“The car is already capable of that at the moment, we finished ahead of both Ferraris on merit, we had better pace than them, and we know we’ve got a lot of performance in the pocket to come in the near future. So in that regard, things are looking good.
“But our goal isn’t just to beat Ferrari, our goal is to fight for championships and our fight wants to be with Red Bull and they’re a step ahead of everyone, so work to do.”
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But can Mercedes get back on track with this concept change?
It is one thing for Mercedes to come to the conclusion that they must give up on their current philosophy, but if they are to move in a positive direction from here, then it is concerning that their data was continuing to push them down this incorrect path.
“At a certain stage we came to the conclusion, we got this wrong,” said team boss Toto Wolff in Jeddah. “Simply, we got it wrong.
“Why we got it wrong, we’re still analysing because we follow data and we followed what simulations tell us, in that case we were misguided by those data.”
So, while Formula 1 really needs a team like Mercedes to come good and take the fight to Red Bull, if Mercedes have been “misguided” by their data up to this point, it begs the question of what has changed to make sure it does not happen again?
We sincerely hope that this time is different and that we will see Mercedes return to a level where they can challenge Red Bull, as after an opening two rounds of Red Bull dominance, F1 2023 certainly requires a rival team to step up and challenge the rampant Red Bulls.