The new era in Formula 1 has so far not gone particularly well for Mercedes. The hope was that there would be an improvement in 2023 and that the gap would be closed, but so far the opposite seems to be true. How will Mercedes close the gap to Red Bull this era in Formula 1, if at all?
The new era in Formula 1, which started in 2022, had the main goal of improving the excitement in the game by creating more spectacle and excess. Statistically, this happened because there were more incidents in 2022 compared to 2021. However, also in 2023, there are again complaints from drivers about excessiveness and DRS trains. Mercedes will also have plenty to complain about with the W14, which has not proven to be faster or better than the W13.
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First back to a previous era, something Mercedes would love too. During this period Lewis Hamilton dominated with the Silver Arrows and his streak of titles was interrupted only in 2016 by his colleague Nico Rosberg. Hamilton also won all the championships during those seasons and Mercedes also won all the constructors’ titles. Red Bull and Ferrari could only watch as the Silver Arrows were invincible. This changed in 2021, a year before the start of a new era in Formula 1.
In 2021 it was Max Verstappen who emerged as a rival to Hamilton for the first time in years. Indeed, thanks to a controversial final round in Abu Dhabi, the Dutchman won his first title of his F1 career. This broke Hamilton’s streak. It also turned out to be the last season where Mercedes was the main factor in Formula 1. From 2022 another team would dominate and problems started for Mercedes.
2022 and 2023
The main problem with W13 in 2022 was fraud. It was so bad that Hamilton and George Russell began to have physical complaints. After Belgian Grand Prix The FIA decided to make changes to the rules that would protect the safety of drivers by reducing fraud. This rule change ensured that Mercedes did better and would even book victory with George Russell, giving hope at the start of 2023 that the team could close the gap with Red Bull during the winter. Especially given the 10% wind time that Red Bull cut as a penalty for breaching the 2021 budget.
However, Red Bull prepared well for these workers and the gap in 2023 has only increased. While Red Bull continues to dominate the European race despite the penalty, suddenly Mercedes is competing with not only Ferrari but also Aston Martin. In 2023 it has mostly been about the W14B, something that should happen through an upgrade that will be implemented in the coming weeks. There is still little faith even in Mercedes itself.
It’s no secret that improvements are coming towards European racing. Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has already hinted that there will be a big improvement at Imola. However, the Austrian also pointed out that Mercedes is currently dealing with a “different reality” and must accept this. According to Wolff, it is not expected that these improvements will suddenly ensure that Red Bull can be challenged during the race. In the case of the Silverstone race, among others, they will also come with updates, after which the focus will have to be 2024. The question is how much advantage the time trial will yield for Mercedes in the 2023 season, because the gap with Red Bull at the moment it’s big.
The question that now remains is whether Mercedes will have a better opportunity now than this year to catch up with Red Bull, given the suspension that the world champion still has until the end of October. After that, the ratio is low for Mercedes again and it will be very easy to grab time quickly from the current gap. In the past, when Mercedes had the advantage, it has proven that the gap to the top team is very difficult to close once it has occurred. However, Mercedes has the drivers, equipment, financial capacity and personnel to make this happen. Do you see Mercedes challenging Red Bull again towards the end of 2023, will this only happen in 2024 or will Red Bull be the dominant team until the new regulations for 2026 are introduced? Let us know in the poll below or in the comments!