Sky Sports F1 analyst and former Formula 1 driver Karun Chandhok has discovered a major Mercedes "problem" ahead of the 2024 season. The two Mercedes drivers had a good starting position at the start of the São Paulo GP, with a fifth starting spot for Lewis Hamilton and a P8 (after a two-place grid penalty) for George Russell.
The restart of the race even allowed Hamilton to start from third position. But throughout the race, the Silver Arrows fell further and further back in the rankings. Both Aston Martins, Sergio Perez, Carlos Sainz ánd Pierre Gasly proved too strong for the team from Brackley. The result after the São Paulo GP? P8 for Hamilton and a DNF for his teammate.
Chandhok analysed Mercedes' weekend and concluded, "I think Hamilton was only ten seconds away from a lap deficit. I think there are a lot of question marks. They need to understand as a group where the root of the problem is," he explained to Sky Sports. "They've had highs the last few races where they were fast, but let's not forget they were disqualified in Austin."
Viewed by others:
Mercedes doesn't understand lows and highs
"You can't compete for the championship if you have these ups and downs without clearly understanding why. Now if they were saying, 'We know we're going to struggle here' or 'We know we're going to be weak here, we'll take it in stride,' it would have been fine. But that doesn't seem to be the case," the F1 expert continued. "They don't seem to fully understand why the highs are the highs and why the lows are the lows. That is a concern that will still be present next year."
And this is in contrast to the McLaren team, which clearly indicated early this year that it was going to struggle at the start of the season. "Since the upgrade in Austria, they have been at the front on every type of track, in every type of corner and in every weekend. Wet, dry, they were there. That gives the aerodynamics department confidence that the car is working." Exactly what the German racetrack lacks, then: "Mercedes doesn't have that. This weekend they were slower than the AlphaTauris, Alpines, much slower than McLaren, Red Bull and Aston Martin," Chandhok said sternly. "It's just confusing."