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No silver bullet

11 months ago

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Writer:

Edd Straw | Motorsport journalist

Date:

15 March 2023

The Mercedes-AMG F1 team stands alone with its 2023 Formula 1 car. It carried its ‘zero sidepod’ concept over from last year, albeit with a little fattening up amidships, an approach the only other team using it abandoned in the middle of last year when Williams brought in a major car update at Silverstone.

In itself, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with taking the path less travelled, and we should not forget that Mercedes enjoyed prodigious success in F1’s previous rules cycle by eschewing the high-rake designs that proliferated. But its struggles in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix suggest it has got something badly wrong.

Last year, Mercedes was 0.680sec off in qualifying in Bahrain, finishing a distant third and fourth in the race. This year, the Mercedes pace deficit was similar at 0.632sec with Lewis Hamilton and George Russell taking fifth and seventh respectively in the race. Worst of all, while Mercedes had the third-best car across last season, Aston Martin’s winter leap means it’s only fourth-best this year. Or at least that appears to be the case post Bahrain. That’s the same Aston Martin that uses the Mercedes power unit, gearbox, hydraulics and rear suspension, and was wind tunnel tested using the Mercedes facility.

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