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Hill: Mercedes were humiliated in Bahrain

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Damon Hill slammed Mercedes by labeling their start to the 2023 Formula 1 season as “humiliating” while showing sympathy for fellow Britons Lewis Hamilton and George Russell for having to drive another woeful car at the Bahrain Grand Prix, and fears what lies ahead for the German team.

‘How the mightiest have fallen’ would aptly describe Mercedes’ fall from grace over the past two years, the new F1 rules caught them out big time as they persisted with the Mercedes W13, their worst car in a decade, for far too long; the common theme before every race: “We don’t know what to expect?” And afterwards, invariably bar a couple of times: “We are stumped and disappointed.”

Yet come 2023, they roll out the same concept, only to see the deficit grow and tellingly, well beaten by their customers Aston Martin on the opening night simply added insult to injury, without detracting from the splendid job by by Lawrence Stroll’s team.

Hill, a pundit for Sky Sports F1, did not mince his words in the aftermath of the race in Bahrain on Sunday: “Poor Lewis and George, this was a race that Toto described as his worst day in motor racing. They were humiliated. They were beaten by a customer car and the gap is probably bigger now than it was last year.”

The 1996 F1 World Champion also touched on the notion that the ride height, of this year’s cars, was raised to aid Mercedes under the guise of safety, yet their tight-is-not-right concept bombed again: “That’s a real cold shower for everyone.

“They came up with this very different-looking car from everyone else’s last year. And the question was, well, that’s different. Why is everyone else gone a different way to them?

“Then throughout the year, they persisted with the car, which was what they called promising but bouncing up and down (porpoising) aerodynamically. And they had terrible trouble trying to fix it, even got the regulations changed a little bit on safety grounds.

“So that the cars were raised up another one and a half centimeters and, and that hasn’t helped them, it appears. So maybe there’s fundamentally something wrong with the direction that they’ve gone in,” he ventured.

Hill: Mercedes might have to just plug on with what they’ve got

Damon Hill: Attention on Hamilton-Russell could hit 'overdrive' as 2023 unfolds : PlanetF1

As mentioned the ineffective Mercedes W14 is an evolution of the problematic and enigmatic W13 that served so badly last year; of course, relative to what Mercedes were accustomed to not so long ago.

Hill added: “If that’s the case, then they’ve got a real problem, because with the cost caps involved in from one now they can’t just go back to the factory and spend a lot of money and redesign a car because that would also imply they’d have to abandon what they think they know.

“Follow the others who have gone in a different direction, which Mercedes don’t have any information about, and on top of all they don’t have the wind tunnel knowledge. So bit of a problem now for them. They might have to just plug on with what they’ve got and prove everyone wrong with their design.

Whatever the case, the harsh reality is that both Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez were on another planet, the reigning World Champion as always faster of the pair.

The winning margin tells a gory tale for Merc, as the winning #1 Red Bull, in cruise control mode, crossed the Bahrain finish line a massive 50 seconds ahead of their rivals, Mercedes duo Hamilton and Russell in fifth and seventh respectively, and fourth-placed Carlos Sainz in an equally below-par Ferrari.

Third-placed Alonso in the Merc-powered Aston was 38 seconds adrift.

Coupled with that trouncing, plus the six-tenths deficit they faced in qualifying, Mercedes have a mountain to climb and perhaps, right now, the factory is working frantically for a solution to lessen the pain in Saudi Arabia, in a fortnight.

Will they persist with their Mission Impossible or steer their project in another direction? We will know soon enough.

@mattes_21 Hill: 🗣️”They were humiliated!” Damon Hill on the direction of Mercedes following the Bahrain Grand Prix. #skysportsf1 #formulaone #f1 #f1tiktok #fyp #foryoupage ♬ Flowers – Miley Cyrus