Mercedes Likely Focusing Efforts on 2024, Hamilton Falling Behind
Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team was the model motorsport titan from 2014 to 2020 in Formula 1. However in recent years the ferocity and competitive advantage they held for so long seems to have dwindled away. But how? Surely a team who could dominate the pinnacle of motorsport for six years knows how to adapt to shortcomings in development. In 2023 there were glimpses of brilliance but nothing compared to the former day. What has Mercedes done wrong in 2023?
Where the Downturn Happened
The demise of Mercedes came via the introduction of the “zero sidepod” a new design thought to push the envelope in sidepod developments. This coupled with some changes to the FIA technical regulations raising the minimum height of the floor for all cars eventually led to multiple problem. The changes came after multiple cars complained about instability in the car coined as porpoising in 2022. The worst victim was seemingly Mercedes. The changes in 2023 for Mercedes were thought to correct the issues that plagued them last year, but improvement did not come. By mid season Mercedes conceded that that they needed to redesign the entire car; setting them back substantially.
Fast forward to today and now the rumor mill is flying with whispers related to now ex-Technical Director Mike Elliott and his departure from the Mercedes F1 camp. Elliott was considered responsible for the zero sidepod design that hasn’t panned out. While unconfirmed, many speculate that his decisions may have led to the down turn of Mercedes costing him his job. However, Mercedes has chosen to take the unified front.
Toto Wolff Rubbishes Rumors Surrounding Elliott’s Departure
Team Principal Toto Wolff denies any merit to the idea that Elliott. Wolff stated the following to Sky Sports F1, “Mike was my number one employee for many, many years in terms of how he performed. We are going to miss one of the most clever people in the industry. It was just a hard toll on him over those many years and I find it very remarkable that somebody can say ‘you know what? I need to do something else rather than holding on to this’. Formula 1 anyway is an incestuous environment. If someone is strong and says ‘I’m done with it’ for the time being that’s good.
It’s no single person’s fault if a car doesn’t perform. It’s also not one single person that makes the car faster. I think we have such a strength in the organization that you can take one out and everybody else is going to cover that. I don’t think that’s going to change anything next year.”
Hamilton and Wolff Were Displeased in Brazil
Hamilton had the following words after the Sao Paulo Grand Prix last weekend, “It’s difficult to say why we struggled so much this weekend. There are moments with this car when it works and others when it doesn’t. It’s very inconsistent throughout the lap and we need to figure that out….we were slow on the straights but still sliding through the corners, so it was difficult. We will go away and look at things to find out what we should have done differently. It was a day to forget but hopefully there are lots of learnings from it too. I am also so proud of everyone in the team. They are still working as hard as they can and holding their heads up high. That’s what we have to continue to do and we will keep pushing to improve.”
Wolff had the following comments, “Lewis survived out there to take P8 whilst George was forced to retire. I can only feel for them having to drive something so difficult today. The car is clearly on a knife-edge the whole time and we need to ensure we develop that out of the car for next year. We also need to push hard for the final two races of the season and recover. That is the most important thing now heading to two very different tracks in Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi.”
Hamilton’s Second Place Possibly Decided in Vegas
With Hamilton’s second place hopes dwindling it seems that some of the Mercedes camp might have their sights set on 2024. The fight is not over, Hamilton is now 32 points behind Sergio Perez in the championship. With two races and potentially 52 points up for grabs the race is still on. However, if Perez leaves Las Vegas with more than a 26 point lead. Hamilton will be mathematically eliminated from second place. . There are no more sprint races so the only opportunity to score points will be the final two