(Motorsport-Total.com) – After Mercedes successfully defended its constructors’ title in 2021 and narrowly failed to win the drivers’ title, the team didn’t stand a chance against Red Bull and Ferrari last season. The problems with the W13 were too serious and could only be solved gradually.
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In 2022, Lewis Hamilton had to admit defeat to his new teammate
While Toto Wolff has recently sounded optimistic about 2023, he remains cautious about hopes of closing the gap to Red Bull.
Former Formula 1 driver and TV pundit David Coulthard, meanwhile, has engaged in an interview with ‘Motorsport.com’. “Yes, I think so, because I think things are moving forward with them,” he replies when asked if Mercedes will be closer in 2023 from the start.
Coulthard: Mercedes 2023 front
“In fact, I think the performance clearly shows that they have a Grand Prix winning car. They may have only won one or two races with the sprint in 2022, but it is indeed a car. Grand Prix winner,” the Briton told George. Russell’s wins at Brazil 2022.
“So there’s no reason to hide it. In fact, I expect a three-way battle in 2023 with both Ferrari and Mercedes involved, which I think is great for us,” he contemplates. “And it also shows that the basis for the 2022 regulations is working well.”
Mark Webber is a bit more reserved. “I think Red Bull are still the most dangerous team,” he said. “In fact, everyone has to improve in all areas. We saw that Mercedes was very reliable, Ferrari less. But Red Bull had good reliability and were strong on all tracks. And with Max, that’s just Formula 1 Plus for them sometimes.”
Webber: Hamilton lost title in 2021
While Verstappen could only beat Hamilton in the season finale in 2021, he won the title in 2022 four races before the end of the season. Hamilton, on the other hand, went without a single win of the season for the first time in his Formula 1 career.
As well as the car’s weaknesses, Webber believes disappointment with how the 2021 title was won, i.e. the mental aspect, also played a role. “Yeah, I think that’s a small factor as well,” Webber says.
“He’s one of the greats of our sport. Of course it’s been a long winter for him to regroup and come back. And then the double setback because the car wasn’t strong. It’s been a great moment of reflection for him to understand how he can keep the motivation for a long season with a car that is not so competitive.”
The cards of a team duel are reshuffled
In comparison, the situation of his teammate Russell, who came from Williams, was very different: “Everything is positive for him because he is in a much better situation than before. For Lewis, on the other hand, it’s a big step backwards in terms of performance concerns.”
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But Webber believes ‘next season when the wins are back on the table, you’ll see the old Lewis again’. Coulthard sees it very similarly.
“If the car is suddenly able to give him the chance to fight for pole position and race wins, then George will also see the real Lewis. George has done a great job, no doubt, but I think Lewis is returned to 99% of what he is capable of.”
Red Bull and Mercedes tied again?
Because at the start of 2022, Coulthard believes, “the motivation didn’t seem quite there, but towards the end of the season, he found himself in top form”. Hamilton found “energy and hunger” during the season.
It remains to be seen whether he will be able to challenge Red Bull with it, provided he has a winning car. The reigning Constructors’ World Champion has less time in the wind tunnel following a penalty for overspending. But what impact will it have?
“I’m sure they have enough creative people to keep going,” Webber says. “But we also don’t know how much Mercedes had to sacrifice. Of course you can still learn something for next year. But I mean how they spent time on research and development and money under budget between last year and the distribution of a car for 2023.”
“Thanks to these elements, it will be fascinating to see how the first quarter of next season unfolds,” says the Formula 1 pundit looking forward to the season opener.
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