Martin Brundle sees a similarity between Mercedes' current plight and the situation endured by Premier league football club Liverpool.
The British club's performances have dropped off massively this season and manager Jurgen Klopp is facing the biggest crisis since taking the reins of Liverpool in 2015.
Brundle has drawn a comparaison between the club's troubles and the predicament facing Mercedes which endured a poor campaign in 2022 – by the team's own standards – and now needs to turn around its fortunes.
The Brackley squad also lost a key member of its operations when chief strategist James Vowles moved to Williams over the winter.
"It’s odd isn’t it right now, look at Liverpool for example," Brundle told Sky Sports. "Little nuances, where you change the personnel, and there’s maybe a lack of confidence.
"That’s what I’m seeing at Mercedes at the moment. I thought last year they would just ace that car really quickly.
"When we saw it in the paddock a year ago, it was like: ‘Nobody is going to see that for dust’, which was wrong.
"Clearly they’ve still got to finesse it, and they need to do it early. Remember, last year, [Max] Verstappen didn’t score any points until the second race, and still smashed the World Championship.
"They’ll need to get in there quickly and sort it."
Mercedes enjoyed a productive pre-season test in Bahrain last week, despite its W14 suffering a reliability issue on the second day of running.
Nevertheless, the team's performance level was seen as clearly inferior to both Red Bull and Ferrari.
Brundle's Sky F1 colleague Karun Chandhok believes technical director Mike Elliott will be under pressure to develop a car that will put Mercedes back on a consistently winning path.
"The confidence thing is interesting," commented Chadhok. "We often talk about that in the context of drivers. But actually, I think for designing a race car, it’s an art.
"It’s a creative process with the underpinnings of physics and mathematics. You need the creative juices to flow.
"These designers who come up with the concept at Mercedes have taken a bit of a battering. Their drivers are not happy, their team boss was pretty vocal on team radio last year, publicly calling out what a bad car it was.
"Now, they’ve come up with this car this year which hasn’t hit the ground running. This confidence thing, what happens for 2024?
"We get to the first half of this year and maybe they unlock this untapped potential they talk about. Then it’s all good.
"But if they don’t, then what? At what stage do they give up on this concept and say ‘We got to start from scratch for 2024, otherwise this spiral continues’.
"This is a big year for Mike Elliot [Mercedes’ technical director] and his design group to rebuild confidence."
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