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James Vowles, formerly of Mercedes, has said he believes Mercedes will be “mighty” at some races this season and that Red Bull will not have “absolute dominance”.
Earlier this year, James Vowles left Mercedes and moved to the customer team of Williams. There, Vowles has taken on the Team Principal role.
His former team have struggled in the past two years. Throughout 2022, Mercedes were the team to consistently struggle with the issue of porpoising. However, despite porpoising not being a problem for the Silver Arrows this year, they’re still lacking the pace.
Many comments have been made since round one of the Bahrain Grand Prix. Toto Wolff expressed his unhappiness with the team’s performance and the W14, much like both drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.
This weekend is the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and after day one on track, Wolff has said Hamilton could be looking at other teams. The Mercedes Team Principal said that if Hamilton wants to win another championship and they can’t supply the car, then he “needs to look everywhere.”
But, James Vowles has now expressed his confidence in Mercedes. Vowles also believes that 2023 won’t be a plain-sailing year for Red Bull, the current championship leaders, to dominate.
Confidence in Mercedes
Vowles believes that at some tracks this year, Mercedes could have some strong races. The former Mercedes Chief of Strategy said:
“I think you’ll see Ferrari will be a lot closer here, and there will be tracks like Silverstone, Barcelona, where Mercedes will be mighty as a result of what I know of their package.
“However, on balance across the season do I think that they [Red Bull] are the fastest? Yes.”
2023 won’t be ‘absolute dominance’
So far in 2023, Red Bull have continued their dominance from last season. They achieved a 1-2 finish in Bahrain with Max Verstappen finishing 11 seconds ahead of his teammate.
Whilst the Milton-Keynes outfit looks to be strong this season, Vowles continues to believe that it won’t a smooth dominant year for them.
Above he said other teams will come into play at certain races; but Vowles also acknowledged that the 10% reduction time in aero development that Red Bull have will play a factor this season.
Vowles said: “They still have a wind tunnel deficit. It’s not as big as I think it necessarily should be to balance things out, but it’s still there. And it still will mean across the season that you’ll see other people moving towards them.
“Plus, with the rules carrying over to next year, you have to keep developing this car, so things will close up.
“I don’t think it will be this absolute dominance, and that would be boring. I think you’ll get ups and downs throughout the year.”
Aston Martin at the moment are the team closest to Red Bull having scored a podium with Fernando Alonso in Bahrain. They Silverstone-based team are second in the championship. Whilst Aston Martin are close to the front of the grid this year, Vowles still believes that Mercedes and Ferrari could be the ones to move closer to Red Bull.
The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is this weekend. Red Bull have currently led the way in the first two free practice sessions.
But will we see the Red Bulls at the front of the grid after qualifying today? And will Vowles’ prediction of Mercedes come true this season?
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