Mercedes’ woes look set to continue as the 2023 Formula 1 season speeds along to the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix this weekend.
The Silver Arrows lived up to Lewis Hamilton’s prediction that the W14 was average by becoming the first car to fail to feature on the podium at every season-opener in the hybrid era.
Mercedes look to be nowhere near challenging for race wins
Hamilton finished fifth in Bahrain, two spots above teammate George Russell, but neither driver were a match for race-winner Max Verstappen.
In fact they would have found themselves even further behind had Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari not suffered an engine failure mid-race.
And Russell, responsible for Mercedes’ sole Grand Prix last year, admitted they may have to write off 2023 and plan for next season now.
He said: “We’re here to win and we obviously want to optimise every single result.
“But if you give me a choice between fighting and having a chance to win races whenever that is, versus slow progress and never having that chance, you obviously choose taking those victories.
“So if we’ve got to sacrifice some races or part of a season to give ourselves a chance to get a car that can fight, whether it’s the second half of the season or even if it’s looking towards next year, maybe that’s what we’re going to have to do because clearly we are a long way behind.”
Saudi Arabia Grand Prix: Date and UK start time
The race weekend at Jeddah Corniche Circuit is scheduled for Friday, March 17 to Sunday, March 19.
There will be two practices on Friday with the third session taking place on Saturday before qualifying at 3pm.
The race itself will get underway at 5pm on Sunday.
Perez joked that there were three Red Bulls on the podium in Bahrain
Saudi Arabia Grand Prix: TV channel and live stream
Coverage will be on Sky Sports F1 throughout the weekend and their build-up to Sunday’s race will begin at 3pm.
Sky Sports customers can live stream this via the app using their mobile, tablet or computer devices.
If not, you can purchase a Sky Sports Day Pass from NowTV for £9.99 while Channel Four will broadcast highlights later in the evening.
talkSPORT will have all of the best of the action throughout the week.
To tune in to talkSPORT or talkSPORT 2 through the website, click HERE for the live stream.
You can also listen via the talkSPORT app, on DAB digital radio, through your smart speaker and on 1089 or 1053 AM.
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Saudi Arabia Grand Prix: What has been said?
“Red Bull have got this championship sewn up,” Russell said.
“I don’t think anybody is going to be fighting with them this year and I expect them to win.
“They should win every single race this season is my bet. With the performance they’ve got, I don’t see anybody challenging. They have got it easy at the moment. They can do what they like.
“They might not get on pole all of the time because we know that Ferrari are very competitive in qualifying. But when it comes to race pace I think they’re in a very strong position.”
Leclerc had to retire two-thirds through the race in Bahrain
Meanwhile, Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has questioned the legality of Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin after his podium finish.
Aston Martin’s technical director Dan Fallows has been named responsible for the British team’s surge to the front of the grid having joined from Red Bull.
“It’s true that what Fallows had in his head cannot be erased,” Marko told Servus TV.
“Copying the focus is not prohibited, but can you copy in such detail without having documentation of our car?
“We had three Red Bulls on the podium, only the last one with a different engine.”
Formula 1 2022: Driver Standings
Driver / Car / Points
Max Verstappen / Red Bull Racing / 25Sergio Perez / Red Bull Racing / 18Fernando Alonso / Aston Martin / 15Carlos Sainz / Ferrari / 12Lewis Hamilton / Mercedes / 10Lance Stroll / Aston Martin / 8George Russell / Mercedes / 6Valtteri Bottas / Alfa Romeo / 4Pierre Gasly / Alpine / 2Alexander Albon / Williams / 1Yuki Tsounda / Alphatauri / 0Logan Sargeant / Williams / 0Kevin Magnussen / Haas / 0Nyck De Vries / Alphatauri / 0Nico Hulkenberg / Haas / 0Zhou Guanyu / Alfa Romeo / 0Lando Norris / McLaren / 0Oscar Piastri / McLaren / 0Charles Leclerc / Ferrari / 0Esteban Ocon / Alpine / 0