CAROL’S CORNER: The Mercedes W14 and the media’s ‘tales of gloom’

© LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

By Carol M. Creasey

After the difficulties they endured last year, many eyes were on Mercedes during 2023 Pre-Season Testing.

Sir Lewis Hamilton had declared himself very excited to be back in the car  to see how much progress had been made. The biggest issue Mercedes faced in 2022 had been the bouncing, but after running on the first day of 2023 testing, the team declared that this problem has been eradicated.

On Day 2, Lewis  was able to collect some useful data, but in the afternoon George Russell was forced to retire with a hydraulic issue. This of course put the media and pundits into hyper mode – tales of gloom were relayed, along with prophecies that the W14 is no better than last year’s car.

However, on Day 3, both Mercedes cars were able to run without any problems, although Lewis has said that they need to work on the balance, which is a problem carried through from last year. Some people seem to think that testing is an indication of who is going to win the championship, but don’t let yourself be fooled – despite acing testing last year, Red Bull broke down twice in the first 4 races, and Ferrari also suffered from engine failures. It is better to spot a fault in testing, than to have to deal with it in the first few races.

Going purely by testing times, it would appear that Red Bull are still out in front, but this is no surprise considering how dominant their car was last year. Ferrari and Aston Martin appear to be fast too. In spite of its balance issues, Mercedes seems to also be in the mix.

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On Day 3 of testing Lewis posted the second fastest time, beaten only by Sergio Perez, and faster than Max Verstappen’s fastest time from the day before. However, in testing nobody drives flat out, they prefer to keep their true pace unknown until the first race. So, the order could well change again this weekend, but at the moment it seems that several teams might be challenging each other for the championship.

In other news, F1 presenter Will Buxton has complained about critics who have given Lewis absolutely no credit for the work he put in with the team over the years, and last year in particular, to improve the car. By Mercedes’ own admission, Lewis’ dedication and support carried the team through a very difficult year, but the critics conveniently ignore this, and together with haters keep trying to convince everyone that his time is over. They also like to say that George is now the new number one in the team, however, unlike Red Bull, Mercedes gives both drivers equal status – both have a chance of winning the championship.

Lewis is probably more motivated than ever after the fiasco of Abu Dhabi 2021, and a difficult season last year. I am looking forward to seeing what he can do without balance issues, and I believe anyone who writes him off does so at their own peril. So, bring it on Sir Lewis, your fans are keeping the faith, and are right behind you!

Be sure to follow Carol on Twitter @eagertogo and visit her website!

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