Mercedes faces pre-season agony with regulation alteration derailing Lewis Hamilton comeback trail

Mercedes had a bitterly disappointing campaign in 2022 and while there was optimism in the camp that the team would be better prepared in the upcoming campaign, it appears like they have received an early setback.

Porpoising robbed Mercedes of valuable consistency for much of the season, but the new FIA regulations in place which warrant a change in the ride height rules has put the Silver Arrows in a spot of bother even this year.

Formula 1 analyst Karun Chandhok believes Mercedes has its work cut out as it hopes to provide both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell the opportunity to challenge for the world championship.

Chandhok has noted that the initial increase in the height of the car was set at 25 mm but has now been revised to 15 mm following backlash from ‘certain teams’.

With more vertical room available for cars as a result, Chadhok believes this could have an adverse effect on Toto Wolff’s side.

“There’s a regulation change next year, which is small but not insignificant in terms of the right height and the cars have all got to run at a higher ride height,” he said.

“Which is the one team historically that hasn’t run at a high ride height? The brain power that won all those World Championships is still there in Brackley and Brixworth.

“But I don’t think it’s as easy to fix yet as you might think.”

Meanwhile, Red Bull boss Christian Horner believes that Mercedes struggled last term largely down to the intense battle it had with his team in 2021.

The fact that Max Verstappen came out with his maiden world championship on that occasion may have knocked the stuffing out of Mercedes, who believed Michael Masi made a questionable decision during the season finale in Abu Dhabi.

This season, Mercedes managed only one win all season and it didn’t come through the expected route of Hamilton.

The Stevenage-born driver spent the entire season without a win for the first time in his career and instead saw youngster Russell claim the team’s only GP triumph.

“You would never have believed it,” Horner said, when asked if the team was just suffering from a hangover of the previous campaign.

“I think that especially off the back of last year, that took so much energy, last year’s championship, and you could see Mercedes had a hangover from that this year.

“I am just incredibly proud of the whole team, how it raised the bar again and came back fighting, adapting to the regulations, and being strategically sharp.

“We were on it when we needed to be and both drivers played their part with some massive victories. 

“It was the first time they didn’t have a dominant car, so to be able to beat them last year and to beat them again this year has been an incredible performance.”

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