Sky Sports F1’s Karun Chandhok says it is a ‘big year for Mercedes technical director Mike Elliott and his design group to rebuild confidence’; watch Bahrain GP live on Sky Sports F1 next weekend, with track action from Friday to Sunday
Last Updated: 28/02/23 6:15am
Martin Brundle has likened Mercedes’ current imperfections to that of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool as the two giants of their respective sports seek to restore a sense of lost authority.
Mercedes endured a mixed week of testing in Bahrain as question marks continued to linger regarding their new car’s pace and balance, despite Lewis Hamilton clocking the second-fastest time on the final day.
While Mercedes appear to have solved the bouncing issues that plagued their 2022 campaign, there remains uncertainty over whether they can challenge Red Bull, who enter the new campaign as favourites after an impressive showing in testing.
“It’s odd isn’t it right now, look at Liverpool for example,” Brundle said on Sky Sports’ The F1 Show on Monday.. “Little nuances, where you change the personnel, and there’s maybe a lack of confidence. That’s what I’m seeing at Mercedes at the moment.
“I thought last year they would just ace that car really quickly. When we saw it in the paddock a year ago, it was like: ‘Nobody is going to see that for dust’, which was wrong.
“Clearly they’ve still got to finesse it, and they need to do it early. Remember, last year, Verstappen didn’t score any points until the second race, and still smashed the world championship. They’ll need to get in there quickly, will Mercedes Benz, and sort it.”
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Hamilton insisted Mercedes have a “mountain to climb” coming out of testing, during which he alluded to continued “balance limitations”.
The Bahrain GP: Key F1 times on Sky Sports F1
|11am: Practice One (session starts 11.30am)||11.15am: Practice Three (session starts 11.30am)||1.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday Bahrain GP Build-up|
|2.45pm: Practice Two (session starts 3pm)||2.10pm: Qualifying Build-up||3pm: BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX|
|5pm: The F1 Show||3pm: QUALIFYING||5pm: Bahrain GP reaction|
Testing meanwhile reflected favourably on Aston Martin to potentially burden Mercedes with another competitor as Fernando Alonso made a bright early impression having filled the seat vacated by the retired Sebastian Vettel.
“The confidence thing is interesting,” added Sky Sports F1’s Karun Chandhok. “We often talk about that with regards to drivers, but actually designing a race car is an art, it’s a creative process with the underpinnings of physics and mathematics, but you need the creative juice to flow.
“These designers have come up with a concept at Mercedes, and have taken a bit of a battering. Their drivers are not happy, their team boss was pretty vocal on team radio last year, calling out what a bad car it was. And now they’ve come up with a car this year that hasn’t hit the ground running, so what happens with 2024?
“We get to the first start for this year, and maybe they’ve unlocked this untapped potential we’ve been talking about, then it’s all good. But if they don’t, then what? At what stage do they give up on this concept, and say: ‘We’re going to start from scratch for 2024’? Otherwise this spiral continues.
“This is a big year for [technical director] Mike Elliott and his design group to rebuild confidence.”
Formula 1 is back! Watch the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix live on Sky Sports F1 next weekend. The track action starts on Friday while Sunday’s race begins at 3pm. Get Sky Sports