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Mercedes concerns escalate as Martin Brundle talks of “tension” after Bahrain’s “devastating” start | F1 | sports

Formula 1 expert Martin Brundle believes there is tension at Mercedes after a poor opening to the 2023 season. Drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell finished P5 and P7 respectively in the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, with the seven-time champion crossing the line 51 seconds behind winner Max Verstappen.

Both drivers and team boss Toto Wolff were very disappointed after the race and lamented the new W14’s performance.

The Austrian went so far as to say drastic changes would be made, while Hamilton insisted that upgrades were needed easily as soon as possible. Russell even claimed Red Bull could win every race this season, and Brundle was surprised to hear such negativity emanating from the Silver Arrows camp so early in the campaign.

“Lewis and Toto would openly express their disappointment at certain times of the weekend, usually only singing praises from the teams in Brackley and Brixworth,” Brundle wrote in his first Sky Sports column of the year. “It must be tense in the team now; the quality there just needs direction and oxygen to calm heads.

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“Zero-sidepod concept” isn’t a buzzword they’ll want to hear again, but the mantra from the team was that changing direction would require a step back first, before working and understanding a new philosophy of aerodynamics. George Russell has already said that he is willing to take this pain for long term gain.

“They dogmatically turned the Mercedes into a late winner last season, but I don’t see or hear the appetite for another year like this.” Mercedes has already admitted its 2023 car concept is flawed after it decided to keep a similar design to the previous season.

Mercedes finished third in the Constructors’ Championship in 2022, and suffered from speed problems and “pigs” throughout last season. While it now looks like the bounce is over, the Brackley-based team doesn’t seem to have progressed from a promising finish to last season which led to Russell’s first F1 race win in Brazil.

Explaining why this happened, Bundle added: “In the early stages of the hybrid era, they had a massively dominant power unit – they just don’t have that anymore. When the window was open for improving power units, they lost.

“They’ve also lost key people like Andy Coyle, James Fowles and others, with James Allison currently also focused elsewhere. The pool of remaining talent is enormous, but it hasn’t materialized yet. Before changing the philosophy and architecture of a Formula 1 car, you have to understand what you want and where it’s going, Which is especially difficult in a cost-era 23-race season.”

As F1 turns its attention towards the second race of the season in Saudi Arabia next weekend, Wolff is set to hold heated talks with his staff this week to discuss how they can make improvements in a bid to be competitive this season.


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