‘Nothing telling’ Mercedes that F1 2023 title push is off limits

George Russell, Mercedes, at the Abu Dhabi GP. Yas Marina November 2022. Credit: Alamy
George Russell, Mercedes, at the Abu Dhabi GP. Yas Marina November 2022. Credit: Alamy

George Russell currently sees no reason why Mercedes cannot mount a challenge to return to the summit of Formula 1 in 2023.

It was a very frustrating 2022 season for Mercedes, their W13 unable to come even close to extending the team’s streak of successive Constructors’ titles. That streak then ended at eight as Mercedes managed only P3 in the final standings.

Russell gave the team their season highlights with their only pole of the season in Hungary and sole win in Brazil, both firsts for the Brit in his maiden Mercedes campaign, but such a season of course fell well below the expectations of the Silver Arrows.

The hope then is that the W14 can elevate Mercedes back to that scene at the very front of the grid, pushing for the titles, and Russell has not seen anything yet to tell him that this cannot happen.

“I think when you look at the development we have brought this year, and the rate at which we’ve closed the gap, there’s nothing telling us we can’t achieve this,” Russell told Crash.net when asked if Mercedes can get involved in the 2023 title picture.

“We’ve been pretty clear now for about two months which targets we have to hit in terms of development. And I am pretty confident if we do achieve that, we will have a car that we can compete with Red Bull.”

Russell takes a great deal of confidence from the way Mercedes improved across the season, from contending with the midfield outfits snapping at their heels, to a race winner and third-fastest team behind Red Bull and Ferrari on their worst day.

“At the start of this year, we qualified behind Alfa, behind Haas,” he said. “I remember in Imola, I finished fourth but I was the same pace as Lando [Norris] and I had Valtteri [Bottas] chasing me down in the Alfa.

“They were quicker than us in that race and Lewis was in P10 or P9. But you look at us now and where we are in comparison to those cars that probably haven’t had the similar development as the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull, we’ve made massive strides.

“The fact now we are in a position to fight for race victories shows a lot. So, I’ve got every bit of confidence in this team.

“Maybe straight out of the blocks, we weren’t the fastest car because of where we were coming from. But the rate of development, I’ve got every hope that we can definitely fight for the championship next year.”

F1 2023 needs Mercedes in the title hunt

While Formula 1 will not benefit from a Mercedes team that is untouchable again, what the series really needs after a season like 2022 is a Mercedes that can at least bring the fight.

Red Bull would win 17 of the 22 grands prix in 2022, those figures helped by strategical and reliability mishaps over at Ferrari, with a sprinkling of driver error. All that gave Red Bull their first title double since 2013, while Max Verstappen claimed his second World Championship with four rounds to spare.

Another season of one-team and one-driver dominance really would be a headache for Formula 1, when so much has been made about the new regulations and budget cap being designed to bunch up the grid, so Mercedes are the most obvious candidate to step up to Red Bull in 2023.

If those teams could deliver a battle anything close to the one they did back in 2021, then F1 2023 will be a real spectacle!

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