A great deal of ‘motivation’ around Mercedes following the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

For Mercedes, the 2023 Formula 1 season began much as the 2022 campaign did, with the team searching for answers. After a fifth-place finish from Lewis Hamilton and a seventh-place finish from George Russell in the Bahrain Grand Prix — a day Team Principal Toto Wolff called “one of our worst days in racing” — Mercedes bounced back this past week, with Russell finishing P4 and Hamilton right behind him in P5.

Now, the mood around the team is much, much different.

In a video posted to social media on Tuesday Andrew Shovlin, the team’s Trackside Engineering Director, can be seen addressing the entire team back at their Brackley headquarters. In the video, Shovlin talks about the motivation within the organization, and the ideal that something special could still be possible this season:

“Thank you for all your efforts. Particularly, what’s nice is coming back and sort of sensing the energy, because you think there’s a lot that this team gets from how we all collectively bounce off each other. And coming back even after Bahrain you got this sense of people wanting to put it right,” Shovlin tells the team. “Coming back after Jeddah, we’re now starting to see what those building blocks are going to look like, and you can sense that there’s a great deal of motivation. And hopefully, we can turn this year into something special still. So, well done.”

Shovlin’s optimism mirrors recent comments made from Wolff. Following the Bahrain Grand Prix, the Mercedes Team Principal indicated in comments to the media that the team is making “bigger gains” with their car development than in recent years. “The kind of gains that are coming in our [research and development] and in aero are much bigger than we’ve had over a long time. We’ve unlocked some potential because we simply look at things from a different angle now,” noted Wolff. “We have a different perspective because of our learnings of the Bahrain test and Bahrain race. So there was no step back, on the contrary there was immediately two steps forward.”

That optimism was shared by Russell following his finish in Saudi Arabia. Speaking at the post-race press conference — when it was believed Russell had secured a third-place finish due to a ten-second penalty handed down to Fernando Alonso — the Mercedes driver talked at length about the developments already made to the W14, and what could be coming.

“We definitely made a step in the right direction. I think, above all, we just truly maximize the potential of the car. We had a really strong qualifying yesterday, which was really enjoyable,” said Russell after the Grand Prix. “I’d really pleased to come home in P4 on the road because I felt like that was the maximum that was possible. And I was having fun up there. The car was feeling good.”

Russell then concluded his comments with a look ahead.

“And we know we’ve got some more performance in the locker, in some races to come.”

Over the next few days, the men and women Shovlin was addressing back in Brackley will be working to find that performance.

We’ll see if they can find that performance in the Australian Grand Prix, the third race of the F1 season.

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