Ex-F1 star devastated at Mercedes initial struggles

Christian Danner spoke exclusively to Total-Motorsport.com about the 2023 F1 season so far

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Former Formula 1 driver Christian Danner has admitted he was shocked and devasted to see Mercedes struggle for pace during the opening stages of the 2023 F1 season.

Mercedes came into 2023 hoping to rebound after losing the F1 constructors’ championship for the first time since 2013 and were forced to change their car concept ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix.

Since then, Lewis Hamilton has been on the podium twice but Red Bull still have a clear advantage over the rest of the field.

“I was devastated to see Mercedes [be] so bad,” Danner exclusively told Total-Motorsport.com. “Because they have such good people, infrastructure, and technology available.

“The fact they ended up with a wrong concept was shocking. The fact that they didn’t realise how bad it was is even more shocking.

“That shows you that no matter how good your tools are, simulation tools, analysing it doesn’t help. You need a human being who tells you and understands what it takes.”

A predictable F1 season

With Mercedes unable to challenge, Red Bull have dominated both championships. They have won every race this season and Max Verstappen led every lap of the Monaco, Spanish and Canadian GP.

“It was okay but kind of predictable,” said Danner when asked about his thoughts on the season so far. “Because ever since you saw the Red Bull for the first time, you have to admit that they’re going to walk away with it. 

“First part of the season was entertaining to a certain extent but predictable. [Red Bull] could win every race because nobody else has understood what it takes to make the car efficiently fast.”

Max Verstappen of Red Bull leads Carlos Sainz of Ferrari at the 2023 Spanish GP start | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Praise for Aston Martin 

Although Red Bull looks set to have both titles wrapped up already, Aston Martin and Fernando Alonso are in a three-way fight for second in the constructors’ championship.

Alonso, who replaced the retiring Sebastian Vettel, has finished on the podium six times in 2023 and briefly led in Jeddah before being passed by Sergio Perez early into the race.

“I mean, what can you say? They improved the car quite dramatically through last season,” said Danner. “It was a pleasure to see how they were catching up. 

Sebastian Vettel at his final F1 race in Abu Dhabi 2022

“To be perfectly honest with you, the performance of Sebastian showed where the car was because it did come at the end of the season.

“Everybody said, [Seb’s] relaxed now because he’s retired, but what it was, it was a faster car that he had. The fact that they got it together that well is a surprise.”

Where is the next F1 2023 race?

The next F1 race is the 2023 Austrian Grand Prix which will be second sprint weekend of the year, held at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg on June 30 to July 2.

Ed Spencer
Ed Spencer
FIA accredited journalist
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