Ex-Formula 1 driver Martin Brundle believes that there will be tension brewing within the Mercedes Formula 1 team following the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.
Mercedes entered the 2023 campaign hoping to put its woes from 2022 behind it, as it endured its least-competitive F1 season in the turbo-hybrid era.
However, it didn’t have the pace to challenge at the front in Sakhir, with Red Bull dominating the 57 lap grand prix.
It also looked to be the fourth fastest team on race day, with Aston Martin and Ferrari displaying stronger pace across race trim.
Team boss Toto Wolff has conceded that Mercedes will need to change its unique ‘zero-sidepod’ concept if it wishes to be competitive in the future.
Brundle believes that strong leadership and direction are needed at the team to bring it out of a “tense” period.
“It seems to me that Mercedes went the wrong way in 2022 and refuse to turn around,” Brundle wrote in his column for Sky F1.
“Even Lewis and Toto were openly expressing their disappointment at certain points of the weekend, and normally they only sing the praises of the teams at Brackley and Brixworth.
“It must be tense at the team right now; the quality is there it just needs direction and oxygen to calm heads.
“Zero-sidepod concept’ is not the buzz phrase they’ll want to hear again, but the mantra from the team was that to change direction would necessitate a step backwards first before working up and understanding a new philosophy of aerodynamics.
“George Russell has already said that he’s prepared to suffer that pain for longer term gain. They dogmatically turned the Mercedes into a late winning car last season, but I don’t see or hear the appetite for another year like that.
“In the early phases of the hybrid era, they had such a hugely dominant power unit – they haven’t got that anymore. When the window was open to improve the power units, they lost out.”