Lewis Hamilton has spoken honestly about the situation at Mercedes after a disappointing first round of the 2023 season in Bahrain.
The W14 has proven significantly behind Red Bull in terms of performance, with even Aston Martin proving a faster package at the opening race weekend.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has already explained that the team is working on a new concept, admitting that the ‘zero sidepod’ philosophy cannot progress further.
This admission at the Brackley-based squad does not bode well for their chances in 2023, as the team will be forced to start from the ground up to close the gap to Red Bull.
Speaking to the media in Jeddah, Lewis Hamilton was honest in his overall assessment:
“But, of course, there are times when you’re not in agreement with certain team members. What’s important is that we continue to communicate. We continue to pull together.
“I still have 100% belief in this time, it is my family, and I’ve been here a long time, so I don’t plan on going anywhere else.
“But we all need a kick. We all need to get on.
“The proof is in the pudding. We’ve seen where the performance is and how people are extracting the performance. We’ve got to now start making some bold decisions, some big moves, in order to close the gap to these guys.”
“Hopefully, at some point during this year… we’re hopeful we might be able to close the gap.
“At that point, it will probably be too late in terms of fighting for a Championship, but we can still turn some heads, hopefully.”
Hamilton’s analysis, whilst not especially encouraging for Mercedes’ title hopes, seems a realistic one.
The budget cap era rewards efficiency and punishes teams for misplacing their resources, and the German squad will surely pay the price for changing direction so early in 2023.
Mercedes is still capable of progressing and making a recovery, but it seems unlikely they will be able to overturn the gap – if at all – quickly enough to contend for the title.
Writing off the Championship after the first round is perhaps overly reactionary, but the deficit from Red Bull to Mercedes in Bahrain seems too significant to ignore.
In any case, with the Saudi GP weekend about to commence, the team will have a chance to better understand the W14 and the task that lies ahead this year.
Some small updates have been introduced for this weekend, although a more significant development package is expected for Baku.