Mercedes have released a surprise statement following their disappointing Bahrain Grand Prix, which the team have admitted “hurt”, as Lewis Hamilton finished fifth and George Russell was seventh.
Having been upbeat about getting back to the front in Formula 1 2023, Mercedes were a long way off the pace to leaders Red Bull.
Max Verstappen was 50 seconds ahead of Hamilton at the chequered flag, with the two-time world champion not showing his full hand which underlined the advantage Red Bull have over the rest of the field.
“Bahrain hurt,” read a statement from Mercedes. “It hurt each one of us, who head into every season determined to fight for world championships.
“It hurt the team as a whole, after pouring so much hard work into a car that hasn’t met our expectations. And we know it hurt you, our fans, too. Your passion and support are so important in driving us forward – and we know that we feel the same pain.”
Mercedes call for no scapegoating
Hamilton has been very open about the Mercedes car feeling similar to the 2022 machine that saw him go winless for the first time in his F1 career.
The seven-time world champion revealed the team didn’t listen to him about his concerns about the car.
Mercedes took just one pole position and victory in their worst season in the sport for a decade.
The statement from the Brackley-based team called for their fans to stand together.
“First, we won’t panic or make knee-jerk reactions,” continued the statement. “In a spotlight as fierce as F1, people are quick to point fingers, or look for scapegoats.
“But you know us better than that. Inside the team, we talk about having the courage to fail, the character to be accountable and the strength to see failure as an opportunity.
“We have been open and searingly honest about where we find ourselves. And we are working urgently and calmly to build our recovery plan.
“Second, we will keep our heads held high – and take this journey step by step, together. We are Mercedes.
“We know the standards we aspire to, and nobody is flinching when we look at the mountain we must climb. It won’t be easy – but where’s the value in something easy?
“These are the times when character is forged; the times when a team becomes greater than the sum of its parts, tackling difficult problems and conquering them.
“We’re together through thick and thin – from Toto [Wolff], Lewis and George, to every single woman and man in the factories in Brackley and Brixworth. And we love that challenge.
“Third, we will be calling on each one of you, too, to power us to the front. Whether you’re offering criticism or support, there’s a right way to do it – and a wrong way.
“We want our online community to be a safe space full of healthy debate, where people treat others and are treated with respect – be they team members, Mercedes fans or rival fans.
“We have a zero-tolerance policy on discrimination, abuse or bullying of any kind, and will take appropriate action to any comments or posts that do not meet our guidelines. And we want your support to make that a reality throughout our community.”
Recovery began after Bahrain GP
Mercedes appear to have been overtaken by Aston Martin in the pecking order, as Fernando Alonso overtook both Russell and Hamilton during the Bahrain GP on his way to a 99th-career podium.
In the final part of their statement, Mercedes made one last plea to their fans to join them on their fight back to the front.
“We’re already hard at work on changing the course of this 2023 season,” they added. “The recovery began immediately after the race – and everybody has a part to play.
“Are you ready to join us for the fight back? If not, then there are no hard feelings.
“If yes, then let’s do this.”