Martin Brundle surprised Mercedes didn’t build ‘looky-likey’ Red Bull for F1 2023

Oliver Harden
Lewis Hamilton tests the Mercedes W14. Bahrain February 2023.

2023 Bahrain Pre-Season Test, Day 1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes. - LAT Images

Martin Brundle has admitted that he expected Mercedes to design a car similar in concept to Red Bull for the 2023 Formula 1 season following their struggles with the zero-pod concept last year.

Mercedes were restricted to just a single victory in 2022 as they struggled in the first year of F1’s revised ground effect rules as Red Bull, their 2021 rivals, won all but five grands prix en route to both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships.

With other teams applying the Red Bull concept, Mercedes faced a choice for 2023 over whether to follow the crowd or persevere with their own technical philosophy.

The W14 car retains the slim-sidepod concept for 2023 and their drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell both sounded downbeat regarding the team’s prospects for this weekend’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

Hamilton, the seven-time World Champion, claimed he was aware of Mercedes’ limitations from the moment he first drove the new car in a shakedown sessions at Silverstone last month, while Russell estimated the team to be adrift of Ferrari and Aston Martin in the fight for second behind Red Bull in Bahrain.

Having appeared to rectify the porpoising problems that blighted their 2022 season, Mercedes are pursuing performance gains with the arrival of a new low-downforce rear wing for the season opener.

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And, appearing on Sky Sports F1’s coverage of the opening practice session at the Sakhir circuit, Brundle revealed his surprise that Mercedes did not take inspiration from Red Bull in the design of their 2023 car.

He said: “I think it’s a better car than last year in that they’re not locked in, they haven’t got it down on the ground only to find it porpoises and bounces too much and having to give so much away.

“But I expected more of a looky-likey Red Bull, if I’m honest, and I think that’s what Lewis is alluding to.

“But I wouldn’t underestimate it. They’ve got a different rear wing here and I think they’re reasonably confident in the next two or three races they’ve got some great upgrades coming.

“They have stuck with the fundamental sidepod concept but I do think it’s a much more tunable package now.”

With Mercedes set to make a slow start to the season, it has been suggested that the team have a Plan B car in the works – potentially similar in design to the Red Bull – in order to return to regular race-winning contention.

However, Hamilton flatly denied the rumours on Thursday in Bahrain, describing the reports as “complete rubbish.”