Mercedes hope for better in Jeddah after Bahrain exposed “weakest point” of car

2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Mercedes are hoping to discover their car is more competitive in this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on a circuit they believe will suit the W14 chassis better.

The team suffered its worst start to a season for 10 years in the Bahrain Grand Prix eight days ago. However the Bahrain International Circuit is one of the most punishing circuits on the calendar in terms of tyre wear, and team principal Toto Wolff is hopeful the team will be more competitive in Jeddah this weekend.

Nonetheless he admitted “the last time that I dreamt about miracles was a long time ago so I don’t expect any miracles.”

“[Bahrain] is very rear-limited and a very abrasive asphalt and that is probably our weakest point in the car,” Wolff explained. “And if you look at it from that perspective, maybe it gets better. Certainly when it comes more to front-limited tracks, we will be on a much, much better pace.”

Lewis Hamilton finished fifth in Bahrain, 50 seconds behind race winner Max Verstappen, and two places ahead of team mate George Russell. Wolff said both his drivers appreciate the W14 requires significant change in order to become a contender for race wins.

“Everyone is aware this is not a matter of finding three tenths and polishing the car up,” he said. “This is a matter of serious performance that we need to find in order to put us back in the situation to fight for race wins and championships.”

During the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend Wolff said the team would have to rethink the concept behind its car in order to compete with the likes of Red Bull. The W14 reached the performance levels the team expected, but not only do Mercedes continue to languish behind the world champions and Ferrari, but Aston Martin have overtaken them as well.

“We set ourselves very high targets and we achieved those high targets,” said Wolff. “So I think it is [about] where we set those targets, all of us collectively, and how we need to maybe change the perspective.

“Which is an interesting exercise also, it’s something that I’m looking forward to. I’d rather win every single race and continue to world championship after championship. But this is now the real challenge and for me, an interesting one, as painful as it is.”

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2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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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...

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17 comments on “Mercedes hope for better in Jeddah after Bahrain exposed “weakest point” of car”

  1. They’ve been hoping to replicate their erroneous sim data for well over a year now.

    They need to fix their car, rather than hoping for the occasional track to somewhat reduce their performance deficit.

    1. I think the point is they’re not going to fix their car overnight and still have to turn up to races in the meantime so Wolff’s job is to try and least give his team some motivation to keep pushing in the short term. They’ve accepted they can’t reach Red Bull now with their current trajectory and are going to change but in the meantime they still need to push for whatever they can. I think on the balance of the first race they’re not that far behind Ferrari and Aston Martin. Finishing second and hitting reset for next year is probably their minimum target now given the advantage Red Bull had.

  2. I’d like to know what Mercedes was doing in the off season? Would like to think it was more than hoping their car woes would be all solved by raising the ride height.

    1. I think they are still working on the rear of the car, they obviously don’t have enough downforce there.

      Either its to do the downforce generated by the ground effects on that section of the car, or its to do with the rear wing. Either way it is fixable. The obvious answer is a new rear wing, but that then means more drag. Otherwise there a tweek coming for the rear section of the Venturi tunnels which could be spilling air. eg the air flowing there isn’t sealed in for long enough.

      I expect to see one or other driver [Hamilton] testing new wings and floors for their first two practice sessions. eg, same as they did for most of last year.

  3. playstation361
    13th March 2023, 15:52

    This country Saudi Arabia is always Red Bull talking particular involvement in showcasing their talent in a netural environment with a faster car.

    There is definitely a Mercedes much more faster car this year personally I also feeI and I definitely see a surprise improvement in the development this year gradually and I am sure it will improve their visibility also the points table will gradually show rapid changes in very few time and we may have a forethought of what is going to happen overall this year.

    I dont agree with reports Aston Martin F1 team will be viewed positively ever(I regret supporing Ferrari because they did not win) with so much popularity being generated so that it will involve huge fan involvement which it directly targets the leader Red Bull Racing.

      1. playstation361
        13th March 2023, 17:15

        No. Human. A big fan of F1 races really. I made my point. Deal with it.

        I dont mind going after Red Bull the energy drink company time being!

      2. MB (@muralibhats)
        13th March 2023, 17:41

        It would punctuate better though.

        1. playstation361
          13th March 2023, 17:52

          There is always a improvement in technology come what may. I dont care personally whatever it is because I am not into it at all.

          The biggest advancement personally I saw was the difference between the video game GTA 2 and GTA 3 forever.

      3. More likely Quaaludes.

      4. I asked:It’s worth noting that Formula 1 cars are complex pieces of machinery that require a great deal of engineering, testing, and development to perform at their best. Many factors can affect a car’s performance, including aerodynamics, power unit performance, tires, and even driver skill.
        It’s also worth noting that the performance of a Formula 1 car can vary from race to race and even from one season to the next, as teams and drivers work to develop their cars and adapt to changing conditions. It’s possible that the Mercedes Formula 1 car is simply experiencing some temporary setbacks or challenges that the team is working to overcome.

        There you have it. I particularly liked ‘even driver skill.’

  4. MB (@muralibhats)
    13th March 2023, 17:39

    Well. Lets see what else joins into their ”weakest point” list

    1. @muralibhats – I am more interested in their “strongest points” list. But it will depend if they are still draggy on the high speed parts.

  5. hopefully they find 2-3 seconds this weekend. the redbull is probably holding back at least 3% of available performance, without even going through any updates themselves.

    1. The Dolphins
      13th March 2023, 23:43

      I can here to say the same. Red Bull have a) pace on tap and b) updates in the pipeline. Mercedes won’t be as lucky this season as they were last year with 1 win.

    2. That’s still 48 seconds short though…

  6. Everyday there is a new quote of them about it being difficult to catch up or some other thing. Not sure but somehow I feel that maybe they have already found something, just hyping it really low and then market their comeback. I mean, it’s been just one race so far and everyone is giving their season assessments.

Comments are closed.