Mercedes or Aston Martin? Predictions made on F1’s ‘fascinating’ battle

Michelle Foster
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton on track at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Jeddah, March 2023.

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton on track at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Jeddah, March 2023.

Although Mercedes aren’t happy with their W14, Damon Hill believes when all is said and done this season the Brackley squad will be ahead of Aston Martin in the championship.

Last season Aston Martin took the radical step of introducing a B-spec car during the season, the Silverstone team embracing the Red Bull concept. It has paid dividends with this year’s AMR23, an evolution of last year’s car, Red Bull’s closest challenger.

In contrast Mercedes stayed faithful to their 2022 concept, even though the W13 won only one race, with team boss Toto Wolff admitting that win at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix led them astray as it gave them belief in the design philosophy. Now they’re considering binning that and taking a different route, perhaps a Red Bull-esque one as Aston Martin did.

While Wolff has downplayed talk of a B-spec car, the Austrian concedes there will be big changes in the coming races with the team introducing a new “layout” for the W14 at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

It has Hill and his fellow F1 Nation podcast pundit Tom Clarkson talking up Mercedes’ chances of beating Aston Martin to second place in this year’s Constructors’ Championship.

“So Mercedes are currently third in the Constructors’ Championship, nine points behind Aston Martin, who comes out top of those two teams will be fascinating,” said Clarkson. “I think I put my money on Mercedes.”

Hill agrees, saying: “I think I would too, I still would put my money on Mercedes.”

But, he concedes, he may have that completely wrong.

“I’ve been shocked and surprised by Aston Martin speed,” he continued, “and maybe that is the new paradigm and we’re not really adjusting our brains yet properly to how this is going to work.

“It’s no good to be saying I don’t know is it? I’ve got to say what I know, and what I know is we don’t know anything just yet!”

Mercedes secured their first podium of this season last time out in Australia while Aston Martin already have three P3s on the board.

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And in the spirit of not knowing what could happen next, the former F1 driver admits he also doesn’t know how the budget cap will affect the teams later season and whether Red Bull will call time on their development early while rivals continued to throw money at upgrading their cars.

“Let’s be a little bit optimistic and say that Red Bull hit a glass ceiling,” he said. “They’ve pretty much got the championship done and dusted, but they need to split the resources and make sure they don’t overspend and then think about next year.

“There’s nothing in the cost cap that says the money you spend this season has to be spent on this year’s car as far as I’m aware. So they may decide to sacrifice some victories towards the end of the season in in favour of investing in next year’s car.

“So maybe that the others push and spend all of their resources unwisely on trying to beat Red Bull towards the end of the season. And that’s another fascinating dimension isn’t it to this this new era.

“We don’t know how it’s going to pan out, we don’t know how it’s going to work, but the theory is that teams will catch up.”

After three races Red Bull lead the teams’ championship with 123 points, 58 ahead of Aston Martin, with Max Verstappen P1 in the Drivers’ standings with a 15-point advantage over his team-mate Sergio Perez.