Former F1 world champion Damon Hill has revealed his fears that the Mercedes aero department is currently inferior to that of F1 rivals Red Bull. The Silver Arrows endured a difficult outing in Brazil last time out, leaving Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff confused and frustrated.
Mercedes remain clear of rivals Ferrari by 20 points in the Constructor Championship standings heading into the final two rounds of the season in Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi, but they have undoubtedly fallen behind McLaren in the development race.
Even more concerning for the Silver Arrows has been the unpredictability of the W14. Hamilton and George Russell arrived at Interlagos last weekend excited about the prospect of building on the success they enjoyed there in 2022 when the latter claimed their first-ever Grand Prix victory.
Instead, after two positive outings in Texas and Mexico City, Mercedes suffered through their worst performance of the season with Hamilton crossing the line in P8 and Russell retiring before the end of the race with cooling issues, having struggled even more than his team-mate while on track.
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Discussing the state of affairs at Mercedes on the Sky Sports F1 podcast, Hill said: “My anxiety is this, which is that for a long time, Mercedes’ dominance really was down to their power unit.
“They had the best power unit for a very long time, and the aerodynamics were always slightly different to Red Bull’s. If you remember towards the end of the previous Formula 1 regulations, they persisted with their relatively flat-looking rake on the car, whereas Red Bull was absolutely huge.
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“They led the way and everyone started following Red Bull with this very high rake. It looked like a rat running along the car. It had a very high back. But Mercedes stuck persistently or doggedly with their [concept], they looked like they were running a different aero concept on their car in the previous regulations, and then along came a new set of regulations.
“What I’m saying is, is the Mercedes aero department missing a trick here? They’ve lost quite a few good aero people to other teams as well, over time.”
Hill’s assessment of Mercedes losing key personnel is true in other departments true. Mike Elliott called time an an 11-year stay at Brackley ahead of the weekend in Brazil, while former strategist James Vowles is working wonders at Williams having made the leap to replace Jost Capito over the winter.
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