Ex-Formula 1 driver Martin Brundle has compared the current transitional period at the Mercedes F1 team to the situation at Liverpool Football Club.
Mercedes endured a difficult 2022 campaign last season, taking just a sole grand prix victory following years of dominance.
Liverpool, too, is enduring a troubled 2022/23 season in the Premier League, having been a title contender for several years.
The departure of major personnel and a shift of the boardroom has impacted the football team, and Brundle feels that a similar situation is occurring at Mercedes amid the departure of James Vowles to Williams.
“It’s odd isn’t it right now, look at Liverpool for example,” Brundle told Sky Sports.
“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, [Max] Verstappen didn’t score any points until the second race, and still smashed the World Championship.
“They’ll need to get in there quickly and sort it.”
Mercedes had a strong opening day to pre-season testing last week in Bahrain, before reliability issues hit on day two.
Although it appears to be rid of the porpoising problem that was prevalent last year, George Russells says contending for victory at the season-opening race will be “a bit of a stretch”.
Karun Chandhok, another former F1 driver who also serves as a pundit for Sky Sports, believes that Mercedes’ technical department will be under great pressure to deliver successful upgrades this year.
“The confidence thing is interesting,” he said. “We often talk about that in the context of drivers. But actually, I think for designing a race car, it’s an art.
“It’s a creative process with the underpinnings of physics and mathematics. You need the creative juices to flow.
“These designers who come up with the concept at Mercedes have taken a bit of a battering. Their drivers are not happy, their team boss was pretty vocal on team radio last year, publicly calling out what a bad car it was.
“Now, they’ve come up with this car this year which hasn’t hit the ground running. This confidence thing, what happens for 2024?
“We get to the first half of this year and maybe they unlock this untapped potential they talk 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 got to start from scratch for 2024, otherwise this spiral continues’.
“This is a big year for Mike Elliot [Mercedes’ technical director] and his design group to rebuild confidence.”