Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023

‘Their car’s half ours and they found 2s’ – Mercedes aim for same progress as Aston

2023 Bahrain Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Mercedes admit the leap forward made by their engine customers Aston Martin shows the progress they should be making.

Aston Martin delivered on its pre-season promise in qualifying yesterday as Fernando Alonso took fifth place on the grid with a lap which was almost two-and-a-half seconds faster than the team’s best effort at the same circuit 12 months ago.

Alonso narrowly beat the two Mercedes drivers to fifth place on the grid, pipping George Russell by four thousandths of a second. Russell said that showed what was possible for his team.

“You’ve got to take Aston Martin’s case,” he said after qualifying. “I think they probably had a good basis last year and they added a load of performance over the winter. And if it’s possible, if anybody can do it, we can do it. So I think they’re a good example of what is possible.”

George Russell, Mercedes, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023
Russell was pipped to fifth by Alonso
Mercedes endured a difficult 2022 campaign with its W13 chassis, which was prone to porpoising. Now they have addressed that problem with their new car, Russell believes Mercedes will be able to make performance gains over the coming races.

“We went into the season knowing that we’re not going to hit the ground being the fastest car,” he acknowledged. “But we wanted to make sure that we had a car that could build upon.

“It took us probably 16 races last year to get a car that we were relatively happy with. But I feel we’re in a much stronger place to build upon. So I guess from our first upgrade package onwards, we’ll probably see. But for now, this is probably where we’ll sit for the coming couple of races.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

The similarities between the AMR23 and the W14 reveal the areas where Mercedes need to progress. “They gained two seconds in half a year and their car is half ours from the engine, gearbox and the rear suspension,” said Mercedes’ team principal Toto Wolff, who pointed out his team’s wind tunnel is also used by Aston Martin. “So given there’s a lot of parallels, we just need to acknowledge that they’ve done an outstanding job.”

Mercedes’ shortcoming is largely down to aerodynamics, Wolff believes. “If it was mechanic[al] and suspension the Aston Martin should have it too.”

Aston Martin placed seventh in the world championship last year but were the third-quickest team in qualifying yesterday. Meanwhile Mercedes are as far away from pole position as they were 12 months ago.

“We started last year with six tenths [deficit] and we are starting this year with six tenths and that is the reality,” said Wolff. “And our aim, whilst being humble about it, is to fight for victories and the world championship. So whatever is between us and and pole position is less relevant.”

Yesterday Wolff admitted Mercedes will have to rethink the concept of its car in order to become competitive. “We are finding good downforce in the tunnel. We have found good downforce in the tunnel since many months,” he said. “But we’ve got to look at how we can optimise this in a way where maybe we find more of that.

“What I really enjoy is working in the team and discovering that. And I said it last year sometimes it’s important for the long time to get it wrong. I trust every millimetre the engineers and we’ve got the physics wrong and now we need to correct them because there’s another three years of regulations to go.”

Bringing the F1 news from the source

RaceFans strives to bring its readers news directly from the key players in Formula 1. We are able to do this thanks in part to the generous backing of our RaceFans Supporters.

By contributing £1 per month or £12 per year (or the equivalent in other currencies) you can help cover the costs involved in producing original journalism: Travelling, writing, creating, hosting, contacting and developing.

We have been proudly supported by our readers for over 10 years. If you enjoy our independent coverage, please consider becoming a RaceFans Supporter today. As a bonus, all our Supporters can also browse the site ad-free. Sign up or find out more via the links below:

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2023 Bahrain Grand Prix

    Browse all 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix articles

    Author information

    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
    Claire Cottingham
    Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

    Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

    10 comments on “‘Their car’s half ours and they found 2s’ – Mercedes aim for same progress as Aston”

    1. Well, Aston were hiring the best people available (or at least that’s what it seams), whilst Mercedes were losing some of their best. Perhaps that begins to show, or perhaps they were just betting on a wrong (design) horse and now it’s hard to turn that ship considering the cost cap. Could be a bit of both, but in the end, a team is made of people; when people change it’s not really the same team anymore. Results can change as well, to mirror that.

    2. Progress is obvious. But last year Bottas qualified 6th in Bahrain and Ocon was 5th in Saudi Arabia. Let’s see if Aston Martin can make it through the whole year

    3. The zero pod design is good for straightline speed. The air just flows from North to South and that is it.
      Sidepods, despite the increased drag, allow you to shape and direct the airflow and improve the aerodynamics in critical areas that eventually negate that increased drag with improved laptimes.
      With their improved cooling technology, Mercedes can run a thinner cooling inlet and maximize the aero potential of the sidepod.

    4. Electroball76
      5th March 2023, 10:31

      Aston Martin: 50% drivetrain, 50% hypetrain.
      Mercedes: 10% who this? , 110% hubris.
      Ferrari: 6% pasta, 3% faster
      Red Bull: 5% Tost rap, 0% cost cap

    5. Is very obvious based on Wolff comments that Mercedes will introduce a B car and leave current concept for what it is.

    6. If the rear suspension is the same then front axle roll center of AMR23 is slightly above the ground and W14 has it at least four inches higher, maybe more. Which is a lot. AMR23 has axis of roll slightly lowered towards the rear while W13/14’s is more extreme. Last year W13 had a front suspension characteristic which resulted in lifting the front inner tire above the ground under the roll to much greater extent than the opposition which backs my claim that front axle roll center is to high. However, we don’t know if they’re trying to give Lewis stronger front end. That’s what only Mercedes engineers know.

    7. 2 years in and Merc is still scratching their heads….and they’re scratching their heads still

      1. by now they must have been scratching balls

    8. It would be fine if the car was extremely fast on a straight to offset the reduced downforce whilst cornering. But the reduced side pods don’t even give it that. I imagine the Mercedes engineers will be scrutinising every detail of the Aston this week to understand how it generates performance and seeing what they can use.

    9. It is good to see the wind tunnel team is following the rules and not sharing the data, since AM and Mer are sharing the tunnel. Good for them.

    Comments are closed.