Mercedes wrote a letter to their fans today in the wake of a woeful start to their 2023 Formula 1 season, at the Bahrain Grand Prix last Sunday, where Lewis Hamilton finished fifth and teammate George Russell in seventh.
Adding insult to injury was the harsh reality that Max Verstappen crossed the line to win the race by almost a minute over Hamilton, and the Red Bull had been cruising after the final stops. It was a damning defeat for th team who persisted with the wayward concept that was the W13 of last year.
So bad is the W14 that, finally, Hamilton has come out and slammed the car design, accusing the team of not listening to him as they pursued an alternative aeroa package that has simply not worked, and never been understood by the once serial winners in F1.
In the aftermath of what can only be termed a debacle, and ahead of some very tough decision by Toto Wolff and his team to make Hamilton and Russell competitive with a car they deserve, which they have failed to do for two years in a row now.
The letter also calls for an end to the abuse that prevails in F1 social media channels calling for healthy debate instead of the unacceptable hate that prevails.
Bahrain hurt. It hurt each one of us, who head into every season determined to fight for world championships. It hurt the team as a whole, after pouring so much hard work into a car that hasn’t met our expectations. And we know it hurt you, our fans, too. Your passion and support are so important in driving us forward – and we know that we feel the same pain.
The situation we face right now isn’t the one that any of us wanted – but it’s the one we have. That’s the reality of it. And the simple questions are: what can we do about it, and what will we do about it?
First, we won’t panic or make knee-jerk reactions. In a spotlight as fierce as F1, people are quick to point fingers, or look for scapegoats. But you know us better than that. Inside the team, we talk about having the courage to fail, the character to be accountable and the strength to see failure as an opportunity.
We have been open and searingly honest about where we find ourselves. And we are working urgently and calmly to build our recovery plan, focusing on what needs to happen short term, medium term, and long term to win. We already have developments in the pipeline for the next races – and there will be more to come. But this won’t be the work of a moment; there are no silver bullets in F1.
It won’t be easy but where’s the value in something easy
Second, we will keep our heads held high – and take this journey step by step, together. We are Mercedes. We know the standards we aspire to, and nobody is flinching when we look at the mountain we must climb. It won’t be easy – but where’s the value in something easy?
These are the times when character is forged; the times when a team becomes greater than the sum of its parts, tackling difficult problems and conquering them. We’re together through thick and thin – from Toto, Lewis and George, to every single woman and man in the factories in Brackley and Brixworth. And we love that challenge.
Third, we will be calling on each one of you, too, to power us to the front. Whether you’re offering criticism or support, there’s a right way to do it – and a wrong way. We want our online community to be a safe space full of healthy debate, where people treat others and are treated with respect – be they team members, Mercedes fans or rival fans.
We have a zero-tolerance policy on discrimination, abuse or bullying of any kind, and will take appropriate action to any comments or posts that do not meet our guidelines. And we want your support to make that a reality throughout our community.
We’re already hard at work on changing the course of this 2023 season. The recovery began immediately after the race – and everybody has a part to play.
Are you ready to join us for the fight back? If not, then there are no hard feelings. If yes, then let’s do this.