Former Formula 1 racer Karun Chandhok believes Mercedes must be prepared to start "again" in 2024 if their 2023 car does not get them back into title contention.
Mercedes fumbled the new ground-effect regulations in 2022, slipping to third in the Constructors' Championship, but were at pains to stress they had solved the fundamental problems with the W13.
However, pre-season testing was a mixed bag for the team, with them looking at least third best, with a resurgent Aston Martin close behind, and in some quarters, even tipped to be ahead.
And now Sky F1 pundit Chandhok believes the team must be prepared to ditch its 'zero sidepod' concept and start afresh for 2024 if the W14 does not deliver.
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"Actually designing a race car is an art, it's a creative process with the underpinnings of physics and mathematics, but you need the creative juice to flow," 11-time Grand Prix starter Chandhok explained to Sky Sports.
"These designers have come up with a concept at Mercedes, and have taken a bit of a battering.
"Their drivers are not happy, their team boss [Toto Wolff] was pretty vocal on team radio last year, calling out what a bad car it was (calling it a s**tbox in Azerbaijan).
"Now they've come up with a car this year that hasn't hit the ground running, so what happens with 2024?
"We get to the first start for this year, and maybe they've unlocked this untapped potential we've been talking about, then it's all good.
"But if they don't, then what?
"At what stage do they give up on this concept, and say: 'We're going to start from scratch for 2024'? Otherwise this spiral continues.
"This is a big year for [Technical Director] Mike Elliott and his design group to rebuild confidence."
Ahead of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, RacingNews365.com journalists Dieter Rencken and Michael Butterworth analyse where each of the F1 teams stands after pre-season testing.