Formula 1: What’s next for Mercedes after Bahrain struggles?

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Formula 1 (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Formula 1 (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) /

Mercedes had a tough result in the Bahrain Grand Prix, so what’s next for them as they continue their quest for a Formula 1 world championship?

Coming into the 2023 Formula 1 season, Mercedes had high hopes for improvement. The W14 was expected to be a massive upgrade from last season’s W13. The improvement is visible, but it just is not up to the expectations of many, including Mercedes themselves.

There have been mixed reactions pertaining to the W14’s first race. Some have already given up on the car and deem it to be a failure, while others believe the impending upgrades to follow will put Mercedes back in the mix for the world championship.

There is a circulating rumor that Mercedes will be rolling out massive upgrades to the car in the near future and are currently focused on getting data from the W14.

From the looks of it, Mercedes want to confirm whether their basic foundation on the car is viable, and they plan to make the necessary improvements to follow.

This strategy is interesting considering many believed the team from Brackley to be gunning for the championship right out of the gate. However, those on the team know what is best for the team and the car.

If this strategy is what is best for Mercedes going forward, then there is some optimism that the W14 will become one of the fastest cars on the Formula 1 grid.

Many are not necessarily happy after the W14’s first outing and believe that Mercedes is failing Lewis Hamilton, whose future at the team remains uncertain. Teammate George Russell even stated that he believes Red Bull will win every race this year.

While Russell may end up being right, there is no way to say for certain that Mercedes will not be able to compete with Red Bull. The biggest takeaway from their race in Bahrain was the absence of porpoising, the most concerning issue they faced throughout the 2022 season.

Going forward, the large upgrade package is expected to be applied sometime in April, so before then, Mercedes will have to develop a good strategy for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and Australian Grand Prix. Tire management and boxing at the right time will be the team’s only hope in achieving a podium finish in the next two races.

The lack of lateral downforce created is difficult to overcome, and this results in tire degradation, which is what hurt the team in Bahrain. However, Mercedes definitely know what went wrong.

Expect to see this solution fixed for Jeddah — or at least a new plan featuring strategic tire management.

The team’s performance should improve going forward. Mercedes are now aware of who their competition is with and what battles they will have on the track. From the looks of it, Ferrari, Aston Martin, and Mercedes will be in a six-car battle for either one or two podium places going forward.

This will be a tough battle for Hamilton and Russell on the circuit, but as it stands, it will come down to tire management and strategically undercutting or overcutting their opponents. The team may not be pleased with its current standing, but there is still potential for success with the current state of the W14.

Those in the Brackley factory will definitely be watching the team’s performance closely in Saudi Arabia and Australia as they put together what they hope will be a massive upgrade package for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, with the aim of turning the W14 into the best car on the grid.

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Be on the lookout for more during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, which is scheduled to take place at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on Sunday, March 19. ESPN is set to broadcast the race live beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET, so begin a free trial of FuboTV and don’t miss it!