‘Yo-yo’ Mercedes urged to analyse two rivals as F1 recovery stalls

Oliver Harden
Mercedes driver George Russell chases Lewis Hamilton at the Brazilian GP.

Mercedes had a wretched weekend at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Former F1 technical director Gary Anderson has urged Toto Wolff to turn to McLaren and Aston Martin to get Mercedes’ recovery back on track.

Mercedes have endured their worst season in years in 2023 and remain winless ahead of the final two races in Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi.

Despite being restricted to just a single win in 2022, Mercedes opted to retain the divisive zero-pod car concept for 2023 but decided to abandon the design after the first race in Bahrain.

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The team unveiled a heavily revised W14 in Monaco at the end of May, but have made only minimal progress in the months since and their season slumped to a new low at last weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix, where Lewis Hamilton finished more than a minute behind the dominant Red Bull of Max Verstappen.

Hamilton has been a vocal critic of Mercedes’ decisions this year, claiming in Bahrain that his guidance over the development of the 2023 car went ignored last winter. At September’s Japanese GP, meanwhile, the seven-time World Champion admitted that Mercedes required “the greatest six months of development” ever to have any hope of challenging Red Bull in 2024.

Mercedes’ ongoing struggles in the ground-effect era is in stark contract to the success of their customer teams, McLaren and Aston Martin, who have both enjoyed their strongest season in years in 2023 with nine and eight podium finishes respectively.

Anderson, who designed the famous Jordan 191 car in which Michael Schumacher made his F1 debut in 1991, believes Mercedes must take advantage of their relationship with McLaren and Aston Martin to establish the right path to take.

Describing the team as a “yo-yo” in his column for the Telegraph, he said: “As a driver you need to have confidence, you need to really know the car underneath you at all times. But Lewis is very vocal about the car being very, very difficult to drive.

“That is normally because the aerodynamics are too peaky: too difficult to get into the right operating window. A temperature change or a wind change affects the car dramatically.

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“If you have confidence in the car, you will push harder. That is what happened to [Fernando] Alonso, after a couple of tough races in the Aston Martin where the car was not consistent and did not give them confidence, they just stepped back to a specification that they knew was decent. Lo and behold, the car gives the driver confidence and they can find the lap time.

“Mercedes must now count on what others have done. They supply power units and various componentry to McLaren and Aston Martin. They have a relationship with these teams and that relationship will allow them to look at the data.

“You can’t hide the data away from a partner and you cannot but have eyes in your head whenever you are looking around the car.

“I am sure, for example, that Toto Wolff visits the Aston Martin and McLaren garage almost as often as he goes into his own Mercedes garage. He is not the technical director by any means but he will have his eyes open and he will see what they are up to.”

Mercedes’ last winless season occurred in 2011, only the second year of the German manufacturer’s return to the grid after taking over the title-winning Brawn GP team of 2009.

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