Mercedes started F1 2023 in disappointing fashion with Lewis Hamilton and George Russell finishing fifth and seventh respectively.

Hamilton finished over 50 seconds behind dominant race winner Max Verstappen.

Why Mercedes car concept needs to CHANGE

Their poor start to the year has led to criticism from Toto Wolff about his team’s design concept, suggesting they may be forced to go down an entirely new route.

Hill has questioned whether Mercedes have the expertise to get back on top.

“It does seem early in the day,” Hill said. “But they came out with a car that looked very different to everyone else’s last year. The question was: ‘Why has everyone else gone a different way to them?’ Throughout the year they have persisted with a car which was porpoising - jumping up and down aerodynamically.

“They had terrible trouble fixing it and even got the regulations changed so that the cars were raised up 1.5cm. And that hasn’t helped them, it appears. Maybe there is something fundamentally wrong with the direction they have gone in. If that is the case, they’ve got a real problem.

“Because, with the cost cap, they cannot just spend a lot of money and redesign a car. Because that would also imply that they must abandon what they think that they know, and follow others who have gone in another direction. But they don’t have any information on that. They don’t have the wind tunnel knowledge. They might have to just plug on with what they’ve got.”

Given Mercedes’ substantial deficit to Red Bull, Hill says the team can no longer rely on Hamilton’s brilliance. 

“You can be as brilliant as you like, but unfortunately the car provides the option of getting to the front,” Horner added.

“You need the thing that gets you into the same bracket as the guys who are leading the championship.

“Christian Horner said it was a superb race. It wasn’t a superb race. There was no racing, they were half a minute up the road! They weren’t even pushing.

“The gap is probably bigger now than it was last year.”