APRIL 2, 2023
New Mercedes is best and worst for drivers
While George Russell is happy with his Mercedes, seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton admits he has a fundamental problem with it.
With the pair qualifying just behind Red Bull's Max Verstappen in Melbourne, Fernando Alonso scoffed at Mercedes' claim that the car concept is a dud.
"They are always fast," said the Spaniard.
"Mercedes always say they want to throw the car away but the truth is that they are already fast. They hid and in the middle of the year they will surely be there to fight for or win races as they did with Russell in Brazil," the Aston Martin driver told DAZN.
Toto Wolff, however, is still playing things down, insisting that Mercedes cannot go "from depression to euphoria" after a single good qualifying session.
Red Bull top official Dr Helmut Marko agrees with that.
"I believe Alonso will be stronger over the race distance than the Mercedes drivers," he told Servus TV.
"But it came as a surprise to me how Mercedes came to Max. I think they did a very good job with the tyres, but if they warm up so well for one lap then it could be a disadvantage in the race."
Hamilton says the result gives Mercedes "a glimpse of hope", but he is not expecting to challenge Verstappen on Sunday.
"We have to assume Max will take a quarter of a second to half a second per lap again in the race and disappear on the horizon," he said.
In terms of the feeling, however, Russell - who out-qualified Hamilton for the third consecutive time in 2023 - is happy with the new black Mercedes.
"It's probably the best F1 car I've ever driven," he said on Saturday.
38-year-old Hamilton, however, tells a very different story.
"Our cockpit is so far forward," said the Briton. "It's one of the worst feelings you can have while driving.
"I listened to the team and that was the direction they said we should take, but if I had known this feeling beforehand, I wouldn't have allowed it."