Mercedes aim to be “fighting for some victories by the end of the season”

2023 F1 season

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Mercedes are aiming to repeat the recovery feat they achieved last year by winning a race before the end of the season.

The team went into 2023 with high hopes after turning their uncompetitive W13 into a race-winner by the end of the 2022 season. George Russell scored the team’s only victory in the penultimate round of the championship in Brazil.

However Mercedes slipped back again at the start of 2023 and decided on a new development direction for its W14 chassis. A major upgrade was introduced at the Monaco Grand Prix, and since then the team’s performance has improved.

“It’s really nice to be now racing at least for podiums, being able to show what we’re capable of doing,” said Mercedes’ chief technical officer Mike Elliott in a video released by the team.

“Hopefully we can turn that into more upgrades, more performance over the races to come and hopefully start fighting for some victories by the end of the season.”

Elliott expects the W14 will be more at home at the two upcoming tracks on the calendar: The Red Bull Ring, which holds next week’s Austrian Grand Prix and sprint race, and Silverstone, where the British Grand Prix will take place a week later.

“I think where we’ve seen the car struggling is more the low-speed corners. So if we start looking at circuits that’ve got more medium and high-speed content, I think we’ll do better there.

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“So Silverstone would be a good example of that. Austria shouldn’t be too bad for us either, so let’s hope we go well in both of those.”

Lewis Hamilton completed the first lap of last week’s Canadian Grand Prix in second place but fell to third by the finish. He pitted during the Safety Car period and again later in the race, and Elliott said it’s unlikely the team would have done any better had they used a different strategy.

“A one-stop strategy was probably the right strategy for the circuit, but only in a normal race,” he said. “As it was, we had a fairly early Safety Car with George’s incident.

“That meant the two ways of doing a one-stop would have been to pit under the Safety Car and then run a very long stint on the hards, and I think we’d have seen far too much degradation for that and we would have been vulnerable to cars from behind later in the race.

“The other alternative would be to do what Ferrari did, which is to stay out under the Safety Car and then pit later in the race, so running a longer first. For Ferrari that worked out because they were stuck in a DRS train with slower cars in front of them and they were able to jump them and then use their inherent pace in the race.

“For us, if we’d have stayed out, I think we’d have just been vulnerable to the cars around us and we wouldn’t have ended up in a better place overall.”

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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...

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46 comments on “Mercedes aim to be “fighting for some victories by the end of the season””

  1. They already are. It all is down to Max having some mechanical problem or making a mistake.

    1. You just explained how they are not.

    2. CheeseBucket
      21st June 2023, 23:52

      That wouldn’t be fighting for a victory, but handed one.

  2. I just hope someone, anyone, starts getting close to Red Bull soon.

    The present state of affairs isn’t just making the sport look bad, it is also cheapening Max’s legacy.
    He is a world class driver but these (let’s be honest) easy wins are not going to make him look good in the history books.

    1. They are getting close, alonso was only 9 sec behind in the end and went under 4 sec at some point. Wasn’t anywhere near this close earlier in the season.

      1. @esploratore1 that’s not exactly telling us a lot, given the unusual layout of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. We’ve seen a lot of cases where cars that have normally dominated a season have not looked as competitive in Canada – to pick one example, in 2002 Coulthard finished 1.1s behind Schumacher in the Canadian GP, but nobody took that as a sign that the F2002 was no longer a dominant car.

        There is also telemetry data from Verstappen’s car that seems to suggest that Alonso might have only narrowed that gap because Verstappen was running in a lower power setting – his straight line speed in clean air was in the order of 10kph slower during those laps than it was towards the end of the race, when he started pushing harder to try and get a point for fastest lap. It also looks like a rather optimistic assessment given that Verstappen took a very comfortable win just one race earlier in Spain, where his winning margin over the next nearest non-Red Bull car was about the same as it has been for most races (in the order of 20-25 seconds).

        1. True, it was just 1 race where he was this close, we’ll need another race to see if they indeed got closer.

    2. But agree about verstappen, he’d look better with more competition.

      1. Max looked mighty with competition in 2021, when he was the only driver to even come close to the (still) dominating Mercs. Putting aside the huge controversies and over-the-edge defending all season long, still he was tied for points going into the last race when he really didn’t have any business being in the mix so late. I really do believe no one else on the F1 grid could have challenged a GOAT like Lewis in the 2021 Mercedes, and he doesn’t get enough credit for that.

        1. I think you underestimate the strength of the RBR that year. It was roughly on par with the Mercedes, possibly even a better car. It was two similarity talented drivers fighting in similarly performant cars. Even without the manipulation by the FIA throughout the season, it would have been a very close season (which makes their intervention even worse in my book).

          1. It did take Max to have more DNF’s that were out of his hands for the points to be tied though. He accumulated the same points with less opportunities to do so and that was only done by being super consistent in the races he could.

          2. The Dolphins
            22nd June 2023, 18:02

            @G I’m not sure we watched the same season, let me explain:

            It did take Max to have more DNF’s that were out of his hands

            like Monza?

            and that was only done by being super consistent in the races he could

            also by having a strong Red Bull car, at least on par with the Mercedes, as @drmouse stated.

          3. @The Dolphins
            See my comment about Monza further down. I agreed with Martin Brundle at the time that Max did nothing wrong by going for the gap around the outside of T1.
            Lewis also had a strong Mercedes yet wasn’t as consistent as Max and made more unforced errors. It’s all there in black and white in the seasons results.
            Actually gained points from some of his errors, ie Imola and Silverstone.

          4. It also took Max making more moves which would have been heavily penalised in any previous season, relying on the other driver to get out of his way. This led to massive confusion lower down the field, as when other drivers did the same they were penalised.

          5. Max did what he needed to do to dethrone Lewis. Don’t forget that the fuse was lit in Silverstone too. That started the war.

          6. I think the “war” had already started before that. Max had been making his signature “get out of my way or we crash” moves well before that, and Lewis had been getting out of the way (as he’d learned was sensible) but getting increasingly frustrated.

            At Silverstone, yes, Lewis made a small mistake, understeering and running slightly wide. The silly thing is that Max probably wouldn’t have made that corner anyway at the speed he was doing and with how late he braked (faster and later than Qually with a full tank of fuel and cold tyres), so had Lewis backed off a bit he would probably have taken the place on exit. Conversely, had Max backed off a bit (as Lewis had been doing with him all season), he’d have overtaken Lewis fairly quickly too. Lewis was penalised for his mistake, and the penalty was in line with his actions (as has been agreed by all to be the rule for many year), though Max was taken out of the race so they didn’t make up for the consequences.

            There was bound to be a coming together between them sooner or later. Lewis wasn’t going to put up with being forced to get out of the way forever, and Max wasn’t going to change his tactics (as evidenced by his doubling down on them from that point, to the point where the stewards had to clarify that you couldn’t dive down the inside with no intention of making the corner to overtake).

            To be fair, though, I blame the officials for all this more than Max or Lewis. They allowed many highly-questionable moves to go unpunished because they wanted to “let them race”. This encouraged both drivers to push them further and further. The stewarding and race direction throughout the season was the worst I remember seeing in F1.

          7. What moves are you talking about before Silverstone?
            I remember Imola where Max rightly squeezed Lewis out as he was ahead and had the corner. Aggressive but fair. Similar to some of the moves Lewis pulled on Rosberg, COTA 2015 for example.
            In Spain Max also took the inside and was far enough ahead to run Lewis out, again nothing Lewis hasn’t done in the past. Lewis just chose to play the victim as he didn’t like it being done to him.
            I remember in that race in COTA Rosberg was seriously annoyed in the cooldown room and Lewis threw the no.2 cap at him just to rub it in.
            I’d also add that there is quite a big difference in making a move in a slow speed hairpin or chicane than there is in a corner like copse.

          8. You’re entitled to your opinion, though I disagree with them.

            We’ve seen moves made at Copse before. The only problem with it was the small mistake Lewis made, which he was penalised for. If you get a good run, though, it’s a perfectly valid overtaking opportunity. Lewis was already well alongside (if not ahead) going into the braking zone, but obviously misjudged the grip he had as he slightly oversteered.

            Without looking back over articles about every race, I couldn’t tell you about any specific incidents. My memory doesn’t work like that, unfortunately, plus I’ve blocked much of that season out (as it very nearly ended my interest in F1). I am certain, however, that Max had made such moves before Silverstone, because I was at Silverstone and I remember remembering them there.

          9. He made moves that bullied Lewis off track but his car was in the correct positions to do so.
            It drove me mad hearing people at the time complaining about Max’ driving without analysing the passes properly.


            Here you can see their battles before Silverstone without any narrative.

            In Imola Max did what Lewis should have done in Monza and run the trailing car out wide in the first part of the chicane. The only thing that saved Lewis in Monza was the ridiculous rule of the chicane being 1 corner and not 2 and Max wasn’t alongside in T1, yet he was fully alongside for T2 when he was squeezed far too late.

            I’ll admit Spain was a borderline move but again, not any worse than Lewis at COTA 2015. It’s easy to build up a sense of injustice when your favourite driver is one on the wrong end of it. Silverstone however was just dangerous.

          10. If you’re going to go back to previous seasons, I could show you dozens where Max had made dangerous moves.

            The actual move at Silverstone was not dangerous, at least no more dangerous than many moves Max has made in the past. I could probably find an example of a similar incident where Max outbraked himself and understeered similarly to Lewis, but it didn’t end in a crash because his opponent had backed out. The move was legitimate, the mistake wasn’t and he was penalised for that mistake.

            As for chicanes like that, IMHO they should be treated as one corner, because there is no space or time to safely change your line significantly between them. You’ve already picked your braking point, slowed as much as you can in a straight line. You’d have to brake while turning to back out mid corner, which you can’t do on the limit. The reason the rules look at where the car was on entry is because that’s where all the decisions are made, and for a chicane that’s the entry to the first corner, the second is already decided.

          11. I’m not suggesting Max wasn’t reckless in years pre 2021, he definitely was. I’m saying the moves he made before Silverstone in ’21 were not what everybody (mainly Hamilton fans) made them out to be.
            Lewis’ Silverstone shunt was an act of desperation because Max was getting the better of him and he tried to carry too much speed into Copse which you just can’t do with someone on the outside. After that I think Max just wanted those unfairly lost points back and I don’t blame him.
            We saw Lewis race Leclerc and keep his car under control a lot better. If you look at the onboards with him and Charles you will see that if Lewis was a car width away from the inside like he was against Max then he would have taken the Ferrari out too. If you also look at the cars positions, Charles actually left less room on the inside than Max.

    3. @nullapax Sure, with the sheer number of races, the dominance of the Red Bull (easily out front – by how much is an open question) and the complete absence of competition from his team mate, Verstappen can stack up the wins, poles and records. He could break the record number of grand chelems this season, which would be astounding. I don’t think it will detract from his future reputation, though.

      1. Yellow Baron
        22nd June 2023, 5:13

        If the rest of these regs go this way then it most certainly will make people dislike him more. As happened with Lewis and seb. I mean in 2021 a lot of people wanted max to win just so that Lewis wouldn’t

    4. @nullapax

      I don’t see his legacy being tarnished if he gets more than 16 wins this season. If anything will be tarnished, it will be F1 as a sport, for not having enough competition in the field despite Red Bull’s dev restrictions. It’s crazy how badly Mercedes and Ferrari have dropped the ball this season. They are getting beaten by a team that was 7th in the WCC last year.

  3. Interlagos 2022 was an outlier, though: Red Bull had already shifted attention to 2023 and Verstappen had a series of issues during the sprint race and the GP (suboptimal setup, damage, collision with Hamilton). The problem for Mercedes is that the win seems to have been a factor in their decision to stick with a design concept they ended up ditching this season. If they can win 2-3 races on merit by the end of the season, it will be a good sign, sure.

    1. Indeed and looking at these lines it looks if they are going to make the same mistake again/

      to repeat the recovery feat they achieved last year by winning a race

  4. Max was able to take a fews wins per season during the dominant Merc years in the 2nd or 3rd fastest car, so there is no reason why Merc can’t do it now.

    1. Yes, just like in brazil 2022, that was imo a 1-2 on merit, because verstappen crashed with hamilton, but then hamilton was able to recover faster than him and even in the sprint he was overtaken by a few drivers, which normally never happens when the pace is there. It may have been a 1-off but merc simply had the fastest car that race and occasionally red bull had a really competitive car even in 2017-2020 and like you said verstappen won a lot of those races where red bull was a match for merc.

      Last time ferrari had the fastest car could be a year ago now.

  5. G (@unklegsif)
    22nd June 2023, 7:15

    We are edging ever closer to the “it’s all just the car, not the driver” brigade, who spent years decrying and belittling Lewis and Mercedes, from popping up again


    1. Tbh, I don’t think it will be the same brigade. Many of those who chanted this mantra just dislike Hamilton, for whatever reason, and took any excuse to tear him down. The same is likely to be true this time: it’s mostly those who dislike Max who will belittle him with these comments.

      Max is being flattered by a combination of a car as dominant as the Mercedes was and a team mate not performing well. But I can’t deny, no matter how much I dislike him, that Max is a fantastic driver. He’s adapted well to his dominant position, and can manage the advantage he has to suit the circumstances. Even if, say, the Mercedes was on par with the RBR this season, Max would still have a good shot at the title: he’s one of the best drivers we’ve ever seen, ranking alongside Hamilton, Schumacher, Senna etc.

      1. G (@unklegsif)
        22nd June 2023, 9:41

        I don’t think it will be the same brigade. Many of those who chanted this mantra just dislike Hamilton, for whatever reason, and took any excuse to tear him down

        This is very true, of course


      2. @drmouse
        You mention the brigade who dislike Lewis ‘for whatever reason’ then claim to dislike Max.
        What makes you dislike Max, if you don’t mind me asking?
        Honest question.

        1. He isn’t the most likeable character… arrogant and curt. He isn’t the most sporting driver.. with his defending tactics, as well as his stunts in Monza and Jeddah 2021. He isn’t the nicest teammate, after trying his best to not let Perez finish P2 in the WDC. His friends (Marko and Horner) are like the Darth Vader and Voldemort of the F1 paddock.

          Besides all of that .. he’s really likeable.

          1. arrogant and curt.

            that’s the strange part.. Verstappen is NOT arrogant what so ever. His dutch way of tackling questions and his non pr puppy talk seems to put people on the wrong foot.

            And if Horner is darth vader, then toto will be palpatine ;)

          2. I find Max to be quite like Kimi in that he is direct and doesn’t care what the media or fans think of him.
            You can compare any of Max’ incidents to similar incidents that Lewis has had in the past. COTA 2015 1st corner? Lewis would happily run Rosberg off the road without a second thought, he just didn’t like it when Max came and did it to him.

            In Monza 21 Max had every right to go for the gap around the outside and he was fully alongside when he got squeezed out. Brundle even commented that Max had done nothing wrong in the commentary. It was only a technical rule that went against him for not being along side in the first part of the chicane which is ridiculous. Giovinazzi was able to pull off a near identical move that Max was trying and did so because he wasn’t ran into the sausage kerbs.
            As for Jeddah 21, yes that was bad, but no worse than the game of DRS chicken that Max and Charles were playing in Jeddah 22 which was incident free.

          3. In Monza 21 Max had every right to go for the gap around the outside and he was fully alongside when he got squeezed out. Brundle even commented that Max had done nothing wrong in the commentary.

            Disagree completely. There was no gap, he did a dive bomb from the outside, that would never have resulted in a clean overtake unless the driver in front literally came to halt at the chicane. That was one of the most obvious intentional fouls I’ve come across… comparable to than Schumi’s move in jerez 1997.

        2. I don’t find him a very likeable character, and I find his driving style overly-aggressive. I’ve had the same problems with other drivers, including Lewis on the driving style front at certain points in his career, but Max doesn’t seem to be growing out of them.

          However, I try not let that colour my opinion of his driving ability. He is a world-class driver, whether I like him or not. The same as with Seb and Alonso, both of whom I disliked back in the day (before they became, to me, likeable characters over the past few years) but always appreciated their abilities.

          That’s the difference, IMHO. Yes, Max has the best car, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t an incredible driver. The same was true of Lewis, but that didn’t stop a huge number of people from belittling his abilities. Even in his first season, when he took second in the WDC by 1 point, he had a larger number of detractors than I’ve seen of any driver. Far fewer are doing that with Max, and I seriously doubt they are from the same crowd…

          1. That’s fair enough. I would say I like the aggressive racing shown by the like of Senna, Schumacher, Hamilton, Alonso & Verstappen.
            It seems a lot of predominantly Hamilton fans have the knives out for Max by saying he is overly aggressive while forgetting a lot of the moves Lewis has pulled in the past.
            As a Verstappen fan myself, I’ll be happy to see the next driver try and put one over on him and just enjoy the fireworks.

    2. Regardless of whether it is ‘the driver’ or not, it is undeniably more about ‘the car’.

    3. It’s never “all” but drivers don’t win races without having the (equal) best car. Unless the race is chaotic, of course.

      Hamilton has the most wins ever, and he has won all of zero races since 2021, despite having the second best car in numerous races.

      1. Robert Henning
        22nd June 2023, 15:00

        His car was also the best at one race, which his teammate won and he was busy that race fighting with a super slow Verstappen, and was capable of winning in other races if not for him and his team’s calls on strategy.

        In the end people still seem to live off the assumption that each driver gets the same performance from the car, which is something that is very hard to prove.

      2. he has won all of zero races since 2021, despite having the second best car in numerous races

        I don’t think he’s had close to the second best car since the start of 2022. Third best, in 2022, probably 4th for most of this season so far. They might be edging 2nd best now, though the Aston still looks significantly stronger. No matter which race, which circuit, I don’t think they’ve had the second best car at all.

        Some races, they’ve been the second best team, when e.g. the Ferrari strategists or drivers threw races away. Lewis struggled more with the 2022 Mercedes than George for whatever reason*, though he’s making up for that this season.

        * Personally, I suspect it’s because of what they were driving the previous season. The Merc, even as it was last year, was a massive step up for George, whereas it was a significant step down for Lewis. But, whatever the reason, Lewis did not perform at his best last season.

        1. But, whatever the reason, Lewis did not perform at his best last season.

          The “Hamilton is testing stuff” argument was widely mocked last year, but the moment they said this stopped is pretty much exactly the moment Hamilton got the measure of Russell again and he hasn’t slipped since*.

          *Aside from those moments where he and Verstappen can’t help getting in each others way.

          1. Very true, but then we would expect a driver of Hamilton’s quality and experience to beat Russel* in the same car. The fact that he didn’t speaks to him having more problems than just testing things.

            * This isn’t to denigrate Russel. He’s a good driver and might even have the potential to be great. However, Lewis’ experience should have won out all else being equal.

  6. Robert Henning
    22nd June 2023, 14:57

    This team has brought a total of 4 cars since last year, and the best they can do is lose to their own customers at the last race.

    I fundamentally don’t think they will do any better than Aston Martin come next year, as Aston seem to have RB intel and know-how for these regulations.

    Mercedes changed their entire car at Monaco, only for Aston’s upgrades to put them back to third fastest.

    Fascinating how the team has been losing ground on the aero side of things once their engine advantage went away.

  7. playstation361
    25th June 2023, 0:53

    We might see Mercedes dominate further as per the newspaper reports and Lewis Hamilton getting shown more and more.

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