Lewis Hamilton has suggested that Mercedes failed to listen to his advice when designing their 2023 challenger, the W14.
After having swept almost every title on offer between 2014 and 2021, Mercedes slipped back in 2022, as the team struggled to get to grips with F1's new aero regulations for that year.
Mercedes did gradually close the gap on Ferrari and Red Bull throughout 2022, fuelling speculation that the Silver Arrows would be back regularly in the winners' circle in 2023.
However, a dispiriting Bahrain Grand Prix laid bare the W14's limitations relative to the dominant Red Bulls, with Hamilton finishing fifth, some 50 seconds behind winner Max Verstappen, and teammate George Russell two places further back in seventh.
Team boss Toto Wolff had taken the unusual step of acknowledging even before the race that the W14 would never be truly competitive, and suggested that the team may switch its development focus onto an entirely new concept.
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Hamilton strikes critical tone
Speaking after the race, Hamilton said Mercedes were miles away from Red Bull, and subsequently sounded a more critical note, implying that the team had failed to consider to his input when designing the W14.
"Last year, I told them the issues that are with the car," Hamilton told BBC Sport.
"I've driven so many cars in my life, so I know what a car needs, I know what a car doesn't need," added the seven-time World Champion, who has a record 103 Grand Prix wins to his name.
"And I think it's really about accountability, it's about owning up and saying 'yeah, you know what, we didn't listen to you, it's not where it needs to be and we've got to work'.
"We've got to look into the balance through the corners, look at all the weak points and just huddle up as a team, that's what we do.
"We're still multi-World Champions, it's just they haven’t got it right this time, they didn’t get it right last year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get it right moving forwards.”
With Red Bull having cruised to a 1-2 finish in Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix, RacingNews365.com journalists Michael Butterworth and Dieter Rencken analyse how much we should read into their early dominance.