Formula 1 Racing

Mercedes up to 1.5s per lap slower than Red Bull in F1 race trim

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

Mercedes endured a torrid 2022 campaign with a car that was crippled by porpoising, but it was confident it would be able to unearth much more potential from an evolution of the same concept.

But with the dreaded bouncing all but gone, Mercedes found out in Bahrain’s season opener that it had made nowhere near the amount of progress that it had hoped.

The Brackley team ended up as the fourth-fastest team in the race behind Red Bull, Ferrari and Aston Martin as Hamilton and team-mate George Russell finished a distant fifth and seventh respectively.

“Last year we were very draggy, and we were struggling not only on the straights, but we had to take a much bigger wing and we were equalling if not losing in the corners as well,” Hamilton said when asked to explain where Mercedes’ deficit is.

“This year it’s mostly through the corners. Down the streets we’re quick, but on exits these guys have a lot of rear end through the majority of the corners.

“So, I think in the race they weren’t pushing and so I think they’re a lot quicker than they even seemed. We have it as them being a second and a half faster in the race per lap or something like that.

“We need all these Red Bulls not to finish the race, the Ferraris not to finish the race, maybe now the Aston Martins not to finish the race, for us to be winning at the moment. But that doesn’t mean we can’t catch them up.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

After the race in Bahrain, Hamilton said the team didn’t listen to some of his concerns on the car development.

And while he explained on Thursday that it “wasn’t necessarily the best choice of words” he did feel like Mercedes wouldn’t be able to close the gap once he had seen the 2023 car’s concept still looked vastly different compared to the competition.

“In hindsight, it wasn’t necessarily the best choice of words,” he reflected. “But of course, there are times where you’re not in agreement with certain team members.

“But what’s important is that we continue to communicate, we continue to pull together, I still have 100% belief in this team.”

On Mercedes sticking to its unique ‘zeropod’ concept, he added: “I knew that we weren’t in the right place when you saw the car for the first time.

“It looked still so much different to those of our competitors and it’s always nerve-racking in that moment.”

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