Mercedes recorded a statement double-podium at the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix after their first big upgrade package of the season.
It was just their second time achieving that feat in Formula 1 since the 2022 summer break and with a new floor, suspension and sidepods bolted on the car it was a positive step for the Brackley team.
It comes after a gutting start to the season for Mercedes, where they started with a continuation of their ‘no sidepods’ concept from 2022 but abandoned that following qualifying at the season-opening Bahrain GP.
With Red Bull having been the team to beat since the start of F1‘s new era in 2022, Mercedes‘ 2023 season is now focussed on finding a new concept to build around for future years.
But do the numbers back up the positive eye-test of Barcelona? Relevo.com did a statistical analysis of the race, and their season as a whole.
Mercedes’ closing on Red Bull
According to Relevo, Spain wt was by far Mercedes‘ closest grand prix to Red Bull on average laptime. After they were 0.797s behind in Bahrain and over a second per lap slower in Australia and Azerbaijan, they were just over a tenth behind this time around.
Crucially, it was also the race that Mercedes were the clear second-quickest team on the grid. Ferrari and Aston Martin were both over half a second behind the leaders.
And while Max Verstappen truly was in a league of his own, Hamilton was again the closest challenger.
He was three-tenths behind the rapid Dutchman over the course of the race and less than a quarter of a second off during the second stint, while again no one else came close.
George Russell was the next-best driver too – Mercedes‘ high-quality driver lineup is their biggest asset.
What does this mean?
Every F1 fan on the planet can see Verstappen is dominant right now. But behind, there is hope. He can’t have the perfect race weekend every single round and if he slips up, Sergio Perez is looking vulnerable behind.
It’s hard to believe Verstappen couldn’t have fought his way up to second from an eleventh-placed start – after all he won the Miami GP from the back of the back.
And these stats back up that Mercedes are going in the right direction. They only hit this stage much later in the year in 2022 – which encouraged them to follow that design for 2023 – but to have hit this stage by round seven is promising.
Also, Red Bull‘s aerodynamic testing penalty will soon start to bite with the Milton Keynes outfit expected to turn their attention to 2024 sooner than usual and that can give Mercedes a chance to win a grand prix when that happens.
Now, they just need to take it.
Where is the next F1 2023 race?
With the F1 circus finished in Spain, the next race is the 2023 Canadian Grand Prix which will be held at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal over the weekend of June 16-18.