Former F1 driver Jolyon Palmer believes conditions and other teams “underperforming” helped Mercedes on their way to success in Spain, and their double podium perhaps “flattered” them at the weekend.
After introducing a raft of upgrades in Monaco, a return to a more conventional circuit saw the updated W14 able to run in earnest for the first time in Barcelona.
As such, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell duly secured Mercedes’ best combined result of the season – finishing second and third respectively behind Max Verstappen at the weekend.
Hamilton admitted after the race that it was the best he had felt in the car since the end of 2021, while Russell recovered nine places in the race to make it onto the podium himself.
Team principal Toto Wolff urged caution afterwards, though, explaining that the cooler conditions in Barcelona on Sunday helped them exploit the maximum out of the car, putting it in what he called a “mega window” for performance.
Former Renault driver Palmer agreed with Wolff’s sentiment and went one step further, highlighting Mercedes’ previous dominance at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and the misfortune of others as potential factors in why they were able to haul 34 points away from the weekend.
“Mercedes were the talk of the race securing their double podium,” Palmer wrote in his post-Spain column for Formula1.com.
“They have significant upgrades on the car and on the face of it, it looks like they are yielding immediate results.
“However this has always been a strong Mercedes circuit. Last year George Russell was fighting for the lead and ended up third, while Lewis Hamilton put in an eyebrow raising performance from the back of the field.
“It’s more likely that whilst the upgrades worked, the track characteristics also enhanced their performance.
“Canada in a couple of weeks’ time might be a more interesting comparison, as it’s more akin to the street circuits we’ve had thus far.
“They seem to be on the correct development path now though so like last year, they should only get more competitive from here.
“The gap to Red Bull and Max Verstappen remains large though and Mercedes were also flattered by their rivals underperforming.”