Fernando Alonso predicts that a resurgent Mercedes could challenge for race victories later in 2023, explaining that upgrades could push the Silver Arrows closer to the front.
Podium finishes have become standard practice for Alonso this year, with the Spaniard securing consistent results in an AMR23 machine that has performed well at most circuits.
The main exception was in Spain, but a significant update package introduced in Canada helped the Silverstone-based outfit take a step forward – even if limited practice time prevented them from optimising the new parts.
Despite this positive start, the Double World Champion believes that Mercedes cannot be written off as this year’s campaign progresses.
Hamilton and Russell’s 2-3 finish in Catalunya was a reminder of how effectively the Silver Arrows can develop mid-season, sending a message to Aston Martin that standing still is the same as going backwards in Formula 1.
Considering that recent changes to the W14 have immediately delivered performance, it can be safely said that the correlation issues that have plagued the Brackley squad have been overcome.
With this in mind, Alonso warned of the Mercedes threat when speaking to the media in Austria:
“No, of course. Of course, of course, Mercedes is going to be very, very competitive.
“They are a very strong team [with] very strong drivers. And they will be in the fight every weekend, for podiums, for race wins.
“They said, even, that they will bring some significant upgrades to the car and hopefully make some fight with Red Bull as well in the future.
“So I think Mercedes proves many times that they will be a contender for everything, every weekend.
“So obviously, our target and our goal is to catch Red Bull eventually, one day, but in the process of doing that, we know that Ferrari and Mercedes, they will be very strong.”
Another important factor to note is that Mercedes will bring a big update package in Silverstone, which has been described as their biggest of 2023.
Several teams are already making decisions about re-directing resources and development into next season, so the next sequence of rounds will likely represent a final push in terms of updates.
The changes to the W14 have been substantial, but more large-scale changes will be made over winter and debut on the German team’s next challenger.
Red Bull is already in firm control of both Championships, so the emphasis will be on Mercedes, Aston Martin and Ferrari to start 2024 from a stronger position.
Most teams are converging in key areas (such as sidepod design), so introducing innovations others have not considered could be the determining factor for the next 18 months.
Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang