Mercedes can now ‘annoy’ Red Bull and bring ‘exciting races’ back to F1

Jamie Woodhouse
Lewis Hamilton driving the Mercedes W14. Spain, June 2023.

Lewis Hamilton in action at the wheel of the Mercedes W14. Spain, June 2023.

Six-time F1 race winner Ralf Schumacher believes Mercedes can become a nuisance to Red Bull in F1 2023 as they further refine their “very young and fresh” W14 challenger.

Although Mercedes unveiled their overhauled W14 in Monaco, which among the changes featured the ditching of their unique ‘zero-pod’ design, it was the Spanish Grand Prix which could be regarded as the real first test of their work.

And the signs are certainly very promising as Mercedes jumped clear of Ferrari and Aston Martin in race trim, with Lewis Hamilton claiming P2 and George Russell P3 to give Mercedes their first double podium result of the campaign.

Red Bull still were very much out of reach, as their team boss Christian Horner was keen to point out amidst the Mercedes hype train, Hamilton finishing 24 seconds behind Verstappen, but nonetheless, Schumacher can foresee some exciting battles at the front coming our way in the not too distant future.

The former Jordan, Williams and Toyota driver believes Mercedes should have more scope for developing their package from here than Red Bull do with the RB19, which would then in theory allow Mercedes to keep chipping away at the deficit.

That being said, since this is a cost cap era in Formula 1, it does also depend on how much budget Mercedes have left for 2023 upgrades.

“Mercedes has the best chance to annoy Verstappen here and there as the season goes on,” Schumacher wrote in his Sky Germany column.

“The new car is now very young and fresh, so there will still be some potential there. The question will be, ‘How much more money can Mercedes spend and put into further development?’ I think there’s still more potential than at Red Bull. There will also be updates, but I could imagine that we’ll soon see some really exciting races at the top again.” recommends

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With their double podium result, Mercedes were able to move into P2 in the Constructors’ standings and ahead of Aston Martin, and Schumacher believes that it was always going to be a tall order for Aston Martin to stand their ground in this development war.

While the likes of Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari are seasoned pros when it comes to the scrap at the front, this is a very new experience for Aston Martin who have surged forward from a P7 finish last season, the team striving for future title successes under the ambitious stewardship of owner Lawrence Stroll.

“I would say that Mercedes has now overtaken Fernando Alonso and Aston Martin for the time being,” said Schumacher.

“The team is not yet that experienced and therefore doesn’t quite have those structures yet. You could see it well in Barcelona: The car was okay, but not good enough. There are still some weaknesses and these were well demonstrated in Barcelona.”

While Mercedes are 18 points ahead of Aston Martin now in the Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull’s seven wins from seven to start the season, featuring four one-two finishes, has helped them build a lead of 135 points already.