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F1 mid-season review: Mercedes promise falters

It has not been the return to title-challenging form they hoped for at Mercedes so far in 2023.

Hamilton Russell Belgium
To news overview © XPBimages

The end of the 2022 season looked promising for Mercedes as it looked to have finally gotten on top of inherent problems with the W13.

The new W14 was expected to feature "different DNA" to last year's counterpart, whilst still retaining some design features including the aggressive 'zeropods'. The car also had a higher ride height to combat the 'bouncing' experienced by Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.

The car proved to be less competitive than expected in the opening stages of the season, with Mercedes slipping behind Aston Martin and Ferrari in the pecking order.

A rejig in the management structure saw Technical Director Mike Elliott and Chief Technical Officer James Allison swap roles.

Mercedes changed car concept at the Monaco Grand Prix, ditching the aggressive design for a more traditional look. This paid off at the following race in Spain with a double podium, although Red Bull remains a distant target.

Further glimmers of hope have been provided - not least pole position in Hungary for Hamilton, but continued struggles have been a shock to the system for the once-dominant Silver Arrows, which now switches focus to securing second in the Constructors' standings.

Lewis Hamilton

Having finished behind Russell in last year's standings, Hamilton has been able to rely less on experimentation and more on talent.

He sacrificed race victories to focus on understanding and improving their car throughout much of 2022 and it seems to be paying off.

While he might not have the car to challenge for outright wins - his last being in Saudi Arabia in 2021 - Hamilton has been extracting the best out of the W14 when Mercedes enjoys strong weekends.

He increased his pole record to 104 after taking pole in Hungary by 0.003s to Max Verstappen, although he was no match come race day.

The seven-time World Champion has yet to extend his contract with the team, but all signs point to him continuing if they can provide him with the machinery to snatch a top three in the Drivers' Championship and challenge Sergio Perez for second.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

George Russell

It has been a mixed season so far for Russell.

Having shown he is capable of running at the front with Hamilton, there has still been a scattering of mistakes from the Briton.

A crash during the Canadian GP ruined any chances of him disrupting Aston Martin's run of podiums with Fernando Alonso, while miscommunication during Spanish GP qualifying put him outside of the top ten.

While it was a great recovery drive back to third, these problems have reemerged intermittently. Lacklustre finishes in Austria, Hungary and Belgium have not helped his points tally, with him now 49 points behind Hamilton.

There have been some impressive moments from Russell though, particularly at the Australian Grand Prix when he qualified second. Had it not been for unfortunate pit stop timing and an engine failure, it is highly likely would have challenged Verstappen for victory.

But with McLaren, Ferrari and Aston Martin all vying for the podium spots, he needs to improve his consistency if he wants to match Hamilton by the end of the season.

Mid-season reviews RN365 News dossier

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RESULTS 2024 F1 Spanish Grand Prix - Qualifying