We are 3 races into the season and so far, Mercedes does not have what it takes to Challenge Red Bull for the title. After last year’s performances towards the end of the season, Mercedes were hopeful that they could challenge Red Bull this year.
Mercedes now finds itself in 3rd place behind a much improved Aston Martin. The team released a statement after the Bahrain Grand Prix, expressing their disappointment and apologizing to their fans for their poor performance as they were hoping to challenge for the title.
Hamilton was upset after the Bahrain Grand Prix stating that the Mercedes team did not listen to his recommendations. Hamilton won his last WDC in 2020. He was denied an 8th Championship by Max Verstappen in 2021. Since then, Mercedes has been trying to give Hamilton a chance at breaking the record shared by himself and Michael Schumacher.
Lewis Hamilton claims Mercedes didn’t listen to him over concerns he had with the development of their 2023 car 👀 https://t.co/3AWgONxh6i
— ESPN F1 (@ESPNF1) March 9, 2023
Toto Wolff has stated that they are going to try different concepts to see what will work and what won’t. There is no doubt that Mercedes have the resources to be successful. But why is there a dip in performance and what changes are they planning to make?
What changes are Mercedes going to make?
The 2022 Mercedes car was way off the pace during the start of the season. But they were able to develop it and close the gap towards the end of the season. Mercedes had gone for an innovative skinny sidepod design for their car. This seemed to work in 2022, however, it doesn’t seem enough to take the fight to Red Bull. We could see Mercedes abandoning the skinny sidepods idea and going for a different approach.
From what Toto Wolff has stated, Mercedes might not be developing the design they already have. Instead, they could be developing new concepts to figure out what works and what doesn’t. This approach is a high-risk, high-reward scenario.
In addition to this, Mercedes recently announced that they will be swapping roles with James Allison and Mike Elliott. But what does this mean for the team and how is it going to help them?
How will the role swap between James Allison and Mike Elliott help?
To understand the importance of this role swap, let us first understand who they are.
James Allison used to be the Technical Director of the team until 2021. Allison used to work for Ferrari until Mercedes recruited him in 2017. James Allison along with Adrian Newey is considered to be the best minds in Formula 1 today.
In 2021, James Allison requested a role change to Chief Technical Officer. This position did not exist before. Mercedes created this role for James as he wanted a better work-life balance. This new role required him to work for about 3 days a week.
As James got a new role, Mike Elliott who was leading the aerodynamics team at the time was promoted to Technical Director for the team. Mike Elliott played a very important role in Mercedes’s success over the years.
But as time went on, Mike Elliott realized that he did not have the right skill set for his new role. There was also a dip in performance following the change. Mike Elliott told James Allison about this issue. They then decided that for the sake of the team, James Allison and Mike Elliott would swap roles. This meant that James Allison would be back working regular hours and focusing on the development of the current car.
Mike Elliott on the other hand will be working toward the future of Mercedes. He will be focusing on the 2026 regulation changes to get the team ahead of the rest. The difference will be that he will not be working 3 days a week, but will be working regular hours.
What was amazing about this was that the decision was not made by Toto Wolff. James Allison and Mike Elliott approached Toto Wolff because they knew that it would be best for the team. It shows the commitment of the Mercedes employees toward success. Hopefully, Mercedes will be making good progress to close the gap to Red Bull and challenge them soon.