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Mercedes Outclassed By Customer Team Yet Again

Mercedes seem to be making no progress in comparison to their customer teams as McLaren wins amidst more Mercedes struggles.

At the 2024 Miami Grand Prix, Mercedes were outperformed by one of their customer teams, McLaren. McLaren enjoyed a race win at the main race, with Lando Norris taking his maiden victory. Oscar Piastri who had unfavourable strategy finished the race P13.

Ever since the introduction of the new regulations, Mercedes have been struggling to find pace in their cars. The 8-time Constructors’ Champions have also failed to close the gap to those ahead of them. McLaren are not the first customer team to outperform Mercedes.

Mercedes went from being Constructors’ Championship winners in 2021 to relying on luck and errors from other teams instead of pure pace to get on the podium in 2022. They however had a headstart in comparison to McLaren, Aston Martin and Williams. The assumption would be that Mercedes would go into 2023 further ahead of their customer teams, but that was not entirely the case.

Aston Martin battling with the Bulls early on

Aston Martin had a brilliant start to the 2023 season. After finishing P7 in the 2022 Constructors’ Championship standings, Aston Martin ushered 2023 with a podium. In Fernando Alonso’s first race at the Silverstone-based team, he was on the third step of the podium, with the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez ahead of him. It was a positive boost for Aston Martin to start the season off in that way. With their pace, it looked like it would be possible for them to challenge the Red Bulls later in the season.

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Alonso finished the next five races of the season in the top 4, only once being off of the podium. The Spaniard however finished P7 in his home race. He returned to the podium in Canada, finishing P2. Unfortunately for Alonso and the team, the upgrades they brought to their car in Austria resulted in a drop in performance. Aston Martin were unable to return to the front of the pack since then, although enjoyed a P2 finish with Alonso yet again in the Netherlands.

In Aston Martin’s impressive early stint, Mercedes were unable to close the gap to their customer team. Mercedes finished the 2023 season in P2, ahead of Ferrari and Aston Martin. However, this is not because Mercedes had unlocked great pace in their car, it was due to Aston Martin’s sudden loss in performance. Ferrari nearly snatched P2 from Mercedes as the Maranello team found some gains towards the season went on.

McLaren on an upward trajectory

McLaren had a shockingly very poor start to the 2022 season. In the first race of the season – Bahrain -, the Papaya team struggled for pace and were unable to finish in the points. It was P14 and P15 for Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris respectively. McLaren were fortunately able to unlock the pace in their car and be able to consistently fight for the points again. In a few races throughout the season, McLaren were able to fight against the Mercedes’ and beat them on pure pace. The Woking-based team finished the season in P5, an achievement that looked to have been impossible back in Bahrain.

In the 2023 season, it was an up-and-down season for McLaren, with a poor start in particular. However, just like the season before, the Woking team made some gains and got closer to the Mercedes and Ferraris. Towards the end of the season in particular, McLaren seemed to have more pace than McLaren. McLaren ended the season in P4.

As Mercedes had finished the 2023 season in P2, and McLaren in P4, it would be expected that Mercedes would have the upper hand coming into the 2024 season. That has not been the case though. Mercedes have had a poor start to the season, with the Ferraris and McLarens now ahead of them. In fact, both Ferrari and McLaren have had race wins this season, disrupting the Red Bull dominance.

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McLaren won the Miami Grand Prix with Lando Norris, after bringing upgrades to their car. Mercedes too had brought upgrades to their car ahead of the Miami GP. However, out of the two, only the McLarens had an improvement in performance. Both the McLarens of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri had strong pace throughout the entire weekend. Mercedes on the other hand had a very poor weekend. Lewis Hamilton crossed the line in P6 whilst George Russell did so in P8.

Stagnant around progressing teams

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McLaren, Aston Martin and Williams all have their power units provided by Mercedes. McLaren have managed a race win amidst the Red Bull dominance, Aston Martin were at some point close to the Red Bulls, and Williams have gone from being the slowest team on the grid to being able to score points. Meanwhile, Mercedes doesn’t look to have made much progress with the same power unit in the past three seasons. For one, the Silver Arrows have had only 1 top 5 finish this season, when Russell finished the P5 in Bahrain. Even more shockingly, Mercedes have found themselves battling with both the Haas’ the entire Miami Grand Prix.

With Lewis Hamilton leaving to join Ferrari – who have also been progressing – it is looking like the Brackley team are falling apart. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has ruled out a move to Mercedes, another testament to the reputation Mercedes have built around the paddock.


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