Mercedes aim to be “fighting for some victories by the end of the season”

2023 F1 season

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Mercedes are aiming to repeat the recovery feat they achieved last year by winning a race before the end of the season.

The team went into 2023 with high hopes after turning their uncompetitive W13 into a race-winner by the end of the 2022 season. George Russell scored the team’s only victory in the penultimate round of the championship in Brazil.

However Mercedes slipped back again at the start of 2023 and decided on a new development direction for its W14 chassis. A major upgrade was introduced at the Monaco Grand Prix, and since then the team’s performance has improved.

“It’s really nice to be now racing at least for podiums, being able to show what we’re capable of doing,” said Mercedes’ chief technical officer Mike Elliott in a video released by the team.

“Hopefully we can turn that into more upgrades, more performance over the races to come and hopefully start fighting for some victories by the end of the season.”

Elliott expects the W14 will be more at home at the two upcoming tracks on the calendar: The Red Bull Ring, which holds next week’s Austrian Grand Prix and sprint race, and Silverstone, where the British Grand Prix will take place a week later.

“I think where we’ve seen the car struggling is more the low-speed corners. So if we start looking at circuits that’ve got more medium and high-speed content, I think we’ll do better there.

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“So Silverstone would be a good example of that. Austria shouldn’t be too bad for us either, so let’s hope we go well in both of those.”

Lewis Hamilton completed the first lap of last week’s Canadian Grand Prix in second place but fell to third by the finish. He pitted during the Safety Car period and again later in the race, and Elliott said it’s unlikely the team would have done any better had they used a different strategy.

“A one-stop strategy was probably the right strategy for the circuit, but only in a normal race,” he said. “As it was, we had a fairly early Safety Car with George’s incident.

“That meant the two ways of doing a one-stop would have been to pit under the Safety Car and then run a very long stint on the hards, and I think we’d have seen far too much degradation for that and we would have been vulnerable to cars from behind later in the race.

“The other alternative would be to do what Ferrari did, which is to stay out under the Safety Car and then pit later in the race, so running a longer first. For Ferrari that worked out because they were stuck in a DRS train with slower cars in front of them and they were able to jump them and then use their inherent pace in the race.

“For us, if we’d have stayed out, I think we’d have just been vulnerable to the cars around us and we wouldn’t have ended up in a better place overall.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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10 comments on “Mercedes aim to be “fighting for some victories by the end of the season””

  1. They already are. It all is down to Max having some mechanical problem or making a mistake.

    1. You just explained how they are not.

    2. CheeseBucket
      21st June 2023, 23:52

      That wouldn’t be fighting for a victory, but handed one.

  2. I just hope someone, anyone, starts getting close to Red Bull soon.

    The present state of affairs isn’t just making the sport look bad, it is also cheapening Max’s legacy.
    He is a world class driver but these (let’s be honest) easy wins are not going to make him look good in the history books.

    1. They are getting close, alonso was only 9 sec behind in the end and went under 4 sec at some point. Wasn’t anywhere near this close earlier in the season.

      1. @esploratore1 that’s not exactly telling us a lot, given the unusual layout of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. We’ve seen a lot of cases where cars that have normally dominated a season have not looked as competitive in Canada – to pick one example, in 2002 Coulthard finished 1.1s behind Schumacher in the Canadian GP, but nobody took that as a sign that the F2002 was no longer a dominant car.

        There is also telemetry data from Verstappen’s car that seems to suggest that Alonso might have only narrowed that gap because Verstappen was running in a lower power setting – his straight line speed in clean air was in the order of 10kph slower during those laps than it was towards the end of the race, when he started pushing harder to try and get a point for fastest lap. It also looks like a rather optimistic assessment given that Verstappen took a very comfortable win just one race earlier in Spain, where his winning margin over the next nearest non-Red Bull car was about the same as it has been for most races (in the order of 20-25 seconds).

    2. But agree about verstappen, he’d look better with more competition.

    3. @nullapax Sure, with the sheer number of races, the dominance of the Red Bull (easily out front – by how much is an open question) and the complete absence of competition from his team mate, Verstappen can stack up the wins, poles and records. He could break the record number of grand chelems this season, which would be astounding. I don’t think it will detract from his future reputation, though.

  3. Interlagos 2022 was an outlier, though: Red Bull had already shifted attention to 2023 and Verstappen had a series of issues during the sprint race and the GP (suboptimal setup, damage, collision with Hamilton). The problem for Mercedes is that the win seems to have been a factor in their decision to stick with a design concept they ended up ditching this season. If they can win 2-3 races on merit by the end of the season, it will be a good sign, sure.

  4. Max was able to take a fews wins per season during the dominant Merc years in the 2nd or 3rd fastest car, so there is no reason why Merc can’t do it now.

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