Ex-Mercedes employee reveals insider W14 knowledge as he makes surprising Red Bull prediction

Mercedes were the third-fastest team on the opening day of the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Williams team principal James Vowles believes Red Bull won’t run away and dominate the championship this season, with the former Mercedes employee having identified tracks that Mercedes and Ferrari will be much stronger at than they were in Bahrain.

Red Bull were sensational at the season-opener, with the Austrians having cruised to a stunning 1-2 at the Bahrain International Circuit, whilst Ferrari and Mercedes struggled.

Many saw this as a sign that Red Bull will cruise to the title again this season; however, Vowles believes the Milton Keynes-based side will be pushed much harder by Ferrari at this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

“Do I think Red Bull will dominate the first part of the season? No, I doubt it,” Vowles told reporters ahead of this weekend.

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“I think you’ll see Ferrari will be a lot closer to them here [in Jeddah] and it will be at tracks like Silverstone, Barcelona where Mercedes will be mighty as a result of what I know of that package.

“On balance across the season do I think they’re the fastest? Yes, but 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.

“It will still mean across the season that you’ll see other people moving towards them. And with the rules carrying over to next year, you have to keep developing this class, so things will close up.”

Vowles’ departure from Mercedes came at a frustrating time for the Germans, right as they discovered that the W14 is seemingly no better than the W13.

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The Williams boss played a huge part in the Silver Arrows’ seemingly endless success, but he also saw first-hand just how quickly things dismantled last season.

He revealed that it only takes “one or two key decision” to “screw up” the following year, something that Mercedes appear to have done.

“In the winter, you could make just one or two key decisions and you completely screw up the following year,” Vowles said.

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“If you look at dominance across eras, it’s across regulation change. The reason why is a) you can’t invest properly and b) instead of having a few decisions, you have too many decisions and you screw them up. Simple as that.

“The next bit is when you’re fast, you don’t want to change. If you get caught into that, I promise you, your rivals will be changing all the time. And what you did yesterday is not good enough tomorrow.

“As a result of that, you can stand still and be caught up very quickly. It is very difficult to stay at that level for as long as Mercedes did. If Red Bull are there or if they keep going, it’ll be an incredible achievement to do it.”