Most teams on the Formula 1 grid would’ve bitten your arm off if you told them they’d finish the season in second position on 409 points… but not Mercedes.
For the Brackley-based team’s standards, this was maybe an even poorer season than last year, as this is Merc’s first season since 2011 where they haven’t taken any victories.
Therefore, let’s look back at the good and bad of the Silver Arrows season.
Lewis Hamilton’s highest point arguably from the 2023 season was his pole position at the Hungaroring.
Hungary has always been a venue Hamilton has had good fortunes with 8 wins there, equal with Silverstone for the venue he has won the most at.
The Brit at the time had 8 poles at the Hungaroring, which was a joint record with himself in Melbourne, Michael Schumacher at Suzuka, and Ayrton Senna in Imola.
So, with Russell fastest in Practice One and himself quickest in Practise 3, a Mercedes Pole Position was on the cards.
Hamilton would ultimately deliver the Pole position by 0.003s from Max Verstappen in possibly one of his greatest pole laps.
The result propelled him to the record for most pole positions at a single venue with nine, and his first pole since Saudi Arabia 2021.
It was also Mercedes’s first since the previous year in Hungary.
The high didn’t last though as Mercedes were not able to capitalise on the pole position with Hamilton finishing fourth in the race.
Podiums came a lot less often for Mercedes this season, with the German manufacturer only finishing in the top 3 eight times this season, nine less than the 17 they recorded last season.
This number could’ve been higher if it weren’t down to wasted opportunities, where Mercedes didn’t deliver.
Arguably this could include the Pole position to fourth in Hungary, Russell’s elimination in Q1 in Hungary, Russell’s lock-up in the rain in Monaco costing him a podium, Russell’s Canada and Singapore crashes while fighting for/in the podium positions, and Hamilton coming together with Russell in Qatar.
One of the possible issues that arise from this is possibly inter-team fighting between both drivers, which may have cost the team some points.
Firstly, in Singapore, Hamilton was applying some pressure behind Russell as he aimed to hunt down Lando Norris, which may have hindered Russell in his attack on the McLaren as the sister car sat behind.
But this was more evident in Qatar with Hamilton turning into Russell at Turn 1 on Lap 1, which if they had stayed competitive for the whole race, could’ve seen a double podium.
The question that pops up from this is how do Mercedes solve this? As gone are the days they had a clear one and two driver, Hamilton needs to prove he is faster than the younger hot shot, whereas Russell needs to prove the next generation of that team, which does create a conflict of interest.
The next issue Mercedes must solve is the small mistakes sneaking into George Russell’s driving, which as previously mentioned happened with him clipping the wall in Singapore and Canada, and the Lock up and contact with Perez in Monaco.
These little mistakes lost the Brit a potential 30 points over the season, which is not something a championship-quality driver shouldn’t be doing.
He has also failed to reach Q3 four times this season, with the previously mentioned Hungary Q1 exit in 18th being one of them.
Therefore, Russell will need to minimize these errors to ensure he is the driver that Mercedes put all of their eggs in the basket of for a World Championship.