Mercedes hopes of catching Red Bull quashed with firm reality check issued

Oliver Harden
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen followed by Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton. Canada June 2023.

F1 commentator Peter Windsor fears Mercedes fans are “going to be disappointed” if the team think they will be capable of beating Red Bull in the near future.

Mercedes have enjoyed an upturn in form since introducing a major upgrade package in Monaco last month, with Lewis Hamilton and George Russell securing the team’s first double podium finish of the 2023 season in Spain.

While Russell retired from the recent Canadian Grand Prix, Hamilton was engaged in a race-long battle with Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin and ultimately finished third.

Max Verstappen maintained Red Bull’s 100 per cent start to the season by winning in Montreal, but his rather slender margin of victory by 2023 standards – second-placed Alonso was within 10 seconds of the Dutchman at the chequered flag – has raised the prospect that the gap at the front is closing.

Mercedes have been talking up their chances in light of the Canadian GP, with an unnamed engineer [see recommended] claiming the team are one more upgrade away from competing for wins and chief technical officer Mike Elliott predicting the W14 car to shine at the upcoming races in Austria and Britain.

However, title-winning former Williams team manager Windsor is convinced that Verstappen’s winning margin in Canada – where he hit a bird in the early stages of the race – was misleading, with Red Bull’s advantage so strong that they can already switch attention to next year’s car.

He told theCameron F1 YouTube channel: “As a Lewis Hamilton fan, I think you could get excited about Mercedes being a bit nearer to Aston Martin.


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“But if you think they’re going to be beating Red Bull in the near future – other than in an one-off situations with lots of variables coming into play – I think you’re going to be disappointed.

“I don’t think we saw Max extending the RB19 at any point of the race and that showed particularly in top speed, they were just saving fuel, they were doing all sorts of things. They had a lot of margin they were playing with.

“And that showed in the consistency of lap time. Max is incredibly consistent anyway, but when you see him hammering out laps – when he’s got no grip, he says – within a tenth of one another over a 10-lap period, you know that he’s got probably three/four tenths’ margin there if not more.

“Mercedes are making progress, obviously. This car seems to be a bit better. A lot of bouncing.

“Lewis was pretty knackered after the race and the first thing he said to Max – I thought [this] was quite interesting – was: ‘How bad was the bouncing?’

“Obviously Max isn’t going to give anything away and he would have said: ‘Yeah, it was really bad.’

“But it wasn’t that bad on the Red Bull, that is for sure, and we haven’t really seen any upgrades yet on that car. They don’t really need to upgrade it. They can just save everything and put it into the ’24 car, can’t they?

“Short of Adrian Newey deciding he’s going to leave Red Bull and go to Mercedes, I think carry on Max. That’s what I would say.”

Following the decision to pursue a different design philosophy, Mercedes’ Monaco upgrade is set to be followed up with another sizeable revision at Silverstone with a smaller package scheduled for later in the season.