F1i Team Report Card for 2023: Mercedes

Our penultimate review of the year looking at how the F1 teams fared in 2023 arrives at constructors' runners-up Mercedes, and drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.

P2 for Mercedes, but no one at Brackley is happy about it

(L to R): Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 and George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 at a team photograph. 23.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 23, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Preparation Day. - www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

The team picture

  • Constructors standing: P2, 409 points

We're a long way down the road from the horror show of 'porpoising' which haunted Mercedes' 2022 campaign, but the fact remains that the team appears to be little further forward now than it was this time last year. They might have moved into second place in the constructors championship, with Lewis Hamilton the highest-scoring driver not in a Red Bull, but these are really small, cold comforts for a team that expects to be in contention for wins and titles yet has never appeared so very far away from this goal than they do right now.

Hamilton remains loyal to the team but that hasn't stopped him from being scathing about this year's W14, which has seemed incapable of delivering consistent performances week-to-week. Just when it looked like Mercedes had found the key to unlocking the car's potential, it crashed to some of its worst performances in the closing races of the season. The steady drip of attrition on the staff side with their best staff being headhunted (including James Vowles, whose strategy advice on the pit wall was clearly much missed) also seems to impairing Mercedes' recovery to their former glory.

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 on the drivers' parade. 08.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 18, Qatar Grand Prix, Doha, Qatar, Race Day. - www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Coates / XPB Images

The driver line-up

  • Lewis Hamilton: P3, 234 points
  • George Russell: P8, 175 points

Last year George Russell beat Lewis Hamilton in the points standings, thanks in part to Hamilton taking on the lion's share of testing and development work allowing newcomer Russell to settle in at Brackley. This year Hamilton is back ahead, finishing with a 59 point advantage over his young compatriot, thanks largely to better race performances. Hamilton and Russell were the only drivers to be dead level in qualifying this season, each beating the other to finish 11 times ahead in qualifying. However Hamilton ended up ahead in 15 races compared to six for Russell (not including the United States GP where Hamilton was excluded for a technical infringement.)

Hamilton was on pole once in Hungary only to end up missing out on a podium on race day. However he did finish in the top three six times (plus one sprint race) compared to just twice for Russell, who fared better in the sprint races by 4-2. Ironically it was Russell who delivered the crucial result in the season finale that secured runners-up spot for Mercedes in the team championship by finishing P3, while Hamilton was only able to manage ninth in Abu Dhabi in one of his worst outings of the entire year.

(L to R): George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14 and team mate Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14 battle for position. 24.09.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 17, Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka, Japan, Race Day. - www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Moy / XPB Images

How 2024 is looking for Mercedes

Having finally ditched their controversial 'zero sidepod' design early in the season, Mercedes are now looking at another major change in design direction in time for 2024. That means they are potentially up to two years behind their major rivals Red Bull and Ferrari in terms of development. While the rethink could solve all their problems, it might just as easily turn up a whole heap of new ones that could set them back to the dark days of porpoising.

All the time, the clock is ticking for Lewis Hamilton to achieve his ambition of an eighth world championship. It may even already be too late. George Russell is a talented driver but we expected more of him this year, so he really needs to cut out the mistakes and show what he can really do next season. With all these factors in mind it looks like Mercedes' attention will be firmly on their ongoing battle for second place with Ferrari, while Red Bull gets on with the all that tedious winning business every week.

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter