Devastating four-year win-less prediction dealt to glum Mercedes

“They are just nowhere. They are an upper midfield team now."

Toto Wolff (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 Shareholder and Executive Director. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 5, Chinese Grand
Toto Wolff (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 Shareholder and Executive Director…

Mercedes will experience at least a four-year win-less drought, it has been predicted.

George Russell’s victory in Sao Paulo at the end of a glum 2022 is the most recent grand prix win for F1’s previously dominant team.

The W15 this season has so far failed to inspire optimism and it will be 2026 before Mercedes stand on the top step of the podium again, they have been warned.

“It’s brutal to say it,” BBC F1 journalist Andrew Benson told the Chequered Flag podcast.

“But the reality for Mercedes, given we’re coming to the end of April, so they are already laying down the design for next year’s cars.

“The reality is that Mercedes will not be winning races before 2026 at the earliest, which is the new regulation change (chassis and engine).”

He continued: “It’s something we have to get our heads around now. It’s the same team that dominated F1 for eight years.

“They are just nowhere. They are an upper midfield team now.

“They are lost. They don’t know why their car isn’t quick. It’s as simple as that.

“They think they’ve got good downforce but it’s not performing as it’s expected to do when it’s on the track.”

At last weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton emerged elated from sprint qualifying. He was P2 on the grid, the best moment in recent memory for him.

But after finishing second in the sprint race, a revised set-up resulted in a dreadful qualifying error and he started the grand prix from 18th, and finished ninth.

“What happened in the grand prix was the result of the new sprint format regulation changes,” Benson explained.

“They are searching for answers as to why the car isn’t what they think it is. Why it isn’t quick.

“Hamilton did well in the sprint to hold onto second. That’s easily his and Mercedes’ best result of the year and the best result they will have for a while, I think.

“He was very good in wet qualifying, as he always is.

“But after the sprint they thought: ‘The car is not great, we need to learn, let’s just try something’.

“They tried something on both cars. They both went in a different set-up direction. They both made the car worse, as a result.

“It’s not a surprise, with a worse car, that “Hamilton failed to make up ground in the race, early on.

“Once the field was compressed, he got back to where Mercedes told him that he’d finish.

“In the context of where they are, it was a good day for them.”

He continued: “They are a million miles away from where they used to be, and from where we are used to them being.

“As a result, it’s not that big of a surprise that the team as a whole are depressed about it.

“If you don’t know why you’re not quick, you can’t make yourself quick. Because you need the answer, the understanding, before you can make the progress.”

2024 is Hamilton’s final year with Mercedes before he goes to Ferrari next year.

Who will replace Hamilton, alongside Russell, in 2025 is another crucial decision for Toto Wolff to make.

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