Ex-Formula 1 race winner David Coulthard reckons there has been a “turning of the tide” within Mercedes recently in favour of Lewis Hamilton.
George Russell replaced Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes last year, spelling an end to the successful combination that had delivered the German marque a record-breaking eight consecutive Constructors’ titles.
Amid Mercedes’ issues to get on top of the latest technical regulations introduced last year, Russell excelled in problematic circumstances to deliver the side’s only win of 2022 in Brazil and ended the year two places above Hamilton in the standings.
That marginal superiority looked to be continuing into 2023 as Russell managed to out-qualify Hamilton at all of the opening four rounds of the current season.
However, Hamilton has since reversed the form book in his favour, defeating his younger team-mate in the past five rounds and scoring three podiums to Russell’s one.
“We gave warning of ‘be careful of getting ahead of yourself’ because Lewis – when he is on form – is a formidable teammate,” Coulthard expressed on the latest edition of his Formula For Success podcast.
“We have definitely seen a turning of the tide, in terms of Lewis looking pretty sharp, there’s this spring in his voice when he’s talking to the team.”
Meanwhile, experienced F1 pundit Eddie Jordan shared the same sentiment as Coulthard, praising Hamilton’s most recent drive to third place in Canada.
Nevertheless, the Irishman underlines that Russell has proven since his switch to Mercedes last year that he is capable of becoming World Champion in the future.
“I was super concerned [about Russell],” Jordan conceded. “However, George has absolutely surpassed everything I thought he could be and he is a brilliant potential future World Champion.
“If he is in the right position and the right car, he has got everything.
“Lewis has upped his game, however,” he continued. “He has found his mojo again. He drove a good tactical race [in Canada], giving the car the best chance.”
Following a tough start to the year, Mercedes elected to switch development direction and abandon the contentious zero sidepod concept it had previously run.
Since launching a revised package in Monaco Mercedes has scooped three podium finishes to overtake Aston Martin for second position in the standings.
However, Jordan asserts Mercedes’ resurgence has come too late to catch Red Bull and believes that the team’s updated W14 still lags behind Aston Martin’s AMR23.
“I think it is encouraging what we are seeing at Mercedes but they still have a bit to catch up with the Aston Martin which still looks very strong, and the Red Bull,” the former F1 team owner underlined.
“But I don’t see the Red Bull suffering in the future. I think the championship is over, sad to say, but that’s what I think – I don’t see anyone touching Max [Verstappen].”
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has already confirmed that the Brackley side will be adding another substantial raft of upgrades at the British Grand Prix.
Firstly, though, the two W14s must tackle the Red Bull Ring for the annual running of the Austrian Grand Prix and the anticipated return of the Sprint weekend format.
Mercedes have been the most successful side at the venue since its return to the F1 calendar in 2014 but it hasn’t collected the winners’ trophy since 2020.