Mercedes and Ferrari: Are they going to bounce back?

Mercedes and Ferrari: Are they going to bounce back?

Ferrari and Mercedes didn't have the best start to the season in their history this year. They both couldn't get on the podium, and their struggles are evident. But can they bounce back and bring the fight to Red Bull?

An interesting statistic

The year was 2013, almost a decade ago. The Formula 1 circus had just visited the tracks of Korea and Japan, and neither Ferrari nor Mercedes scored a podium on those two occasions. Fast-forward ten years, and for the first time since then, neither of these two historic teams managed to be present on the podium in two consecutive races. That is surely a stat not to be proud of, considering the fame that surrounds the Italian and Brackley-based teams.

So, the question we'll try to answer in this article is: is there a way out of this unusual, and unexpected situation for Ferrari and Mercedes?


Let's start with the latter. To understand the struggles of the W14, the analysis must start from the winter break. It's understood that during the preparation for the 2023 season, Mercedes encountered issues with the production of some of the car parts which weren't following the standards set by the FIA regulation. Therefore, changes had to be made, and the team did not arrive completely ready at the start of the new season.

The new challenger, which should have been a step forward compared to its predecessor, still showed weaknesses and proved not to be competitive enough to allow Lewis Hamilton and George Russell to compete for victories. The car lacks lateral grip, especially on the rear, causing the drivers to struggle in slow corners. Moreover, the engine is not the fastest on the grid, which means Mercedes also loses time on the

However, despite all the struggles, the team saw improvements from the pre-season testing in Bahrain to the second race in Jeddah. A new floor among some other minor changes was tested in Saudi Arabia, and the results were positive. Proof of it is also the fact that Mercedes finished in front of Ferrari on Sunday.

Another news that many didn't expect despite the difficulties of the team earlier this season, is that Toto Wolff raised his voice and ordered the engineers to take a different path with the development of the car. Thus, at Imola (or even before), Mercedes will bring a B-spec of the W14 that should follow Red Bull's side-pods philosophy. Despite that, the chassis will remain the same until next year due to the budget cap rules.

By bringing small upgrades and then an almost completely different car, Mercedes will try to turn the season around, or at least get closer to the top. The plan seems already very precise, and everybody is working in the same direction to get back to winning ways once again.


Coming to Ferrari, the situation is probably slightly trickier. In Bahrain, the car's performance didn't convince, but at least the Maranello-based team was ahead of Mercedes. The biggest concern was reliability due to Charles Leclerc's issue, and also tire wear, but at least Carlos Sainz finished ahead of Russell and Hamilton, as well as Lance Stroll in the Aston Martin.

However, the situation worsened in Jeddah, since both Ferraris finished behind the two Mercedes and far away from Fernando Alonso in the Aston Martin. If the pace in qualifying was promising, the performance with the hard tires on Sunday was demoralizing.

Once again, the SF-23 showed its lack of vertical downforce on the rear end. This translates into an issue with the rear tires' wear – which was still present on a track that is gentle on the tires – and, therefore, a not competitive race pace.

However, Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur believes that the SF-23 project is good, and the team doesn't want to think about a different design like Mercedes has already planned to do. The aim is to keep bringing upgrades race after race, hoping to finally unlock the full potential of the car seen in the simulator.

In Jeddah, the team introduced a few aerodynamic changes. For example, the rear wing and a slightly different front wing. The floor was different as well, but it didn't convince the engineers.

In Australia, more changes are expected, but nothing too drastic. Then, in Miami, Ferrari will bring a new floor, which will provide more downforce on the rear. The Venturi channels' configuration should be different as well as the rear wing, which should create even more downforce to reduce the issues with the tire wear. Finally, a more significant package of upgrades should be seen in Spain.

Moreover, one of the biggest game-changing upgrades could be on the rear suspension. The way it's attached to the gearbox should change, to keep the car's height steadier and avoid porpoising and bouncing.

This is how Ferrari is planning to change how the 2023 campaign will go. It seems that the SF-23 could be a fast car, and we can see that in qualifying, where its pace is not too far off from Red Bull. The issues are on Sunday, and the engineers in Maranello are trying to solve them by bringing small upgrades at every race, while also working on more specific, and more significant ones to introduce at different tracks.