Lewis Hamilton warned of ‘whole different story’

Both Mercedes drivers qualified within four-tenths of Max Verstappen at the Australian Grand Prix.

Ex-Formula 1 driver Ralf Schumacher believes Mercedes’ excellent performance at the Australian Grand Prix last weekend was a “one-hit wonder”, with the German expecting the Silver Arrows to be weaker in Azerbaijan.

Mercedes enjoyed their strongest weekend of the season at the Albert Park Circuit, with George Russell and Lewis Hamilton having qualified second and third, before Hamilton finished second in the race.

Russell had the pace for the podium but retired following an engine failure, something which Mercedes suffer very few of.

Hamilton’s podium was staggeringly his and the team’s first of the 2023 F1 season; however, Schumacher thinks the circuit played a part in their success.

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“I think it was a bit of a one-hit wonder, to be honest,” Schumacher said.

“Australia has always been a track where you can do well with a car that was half-decent, but then you go to the next track and it’s a whole different story.”

Schumacher continued to explain that Mercedes were strong for two reasons in Australia, the first reason being the nature of the track and the second being their power unit.

All of the Mercedes-powered cars were very strong in Melbourne, with Williams’ Alex Albon in particular having set the fastest second sector throughout qualifying.

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“I think it was two things,” said Schumacher.

“It was a one-off due to the track. The other is, it showed that the Mercedes engine is currently the strongest when you look at the times in the second sector, even with Williams.

“All the Mercedes-powered cars were extremely strong this weekend, which is obviously a good sign for the engine.”

Schumacher backed up his point about the Albert Park Circuit causing odd results by using Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg as an example, with the 35-year-old having made it to Q3 before finishing seventh in the race.

“We also saw with Haas, and with Nico Hulkenberg, who was very, very strong in comparison,” explained Schumacher.

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Red Bull were still the dominant side, though, with Russell having even accused the Austrians of sandbagging.

Despite the claims, Schumacher believes Mercedes do have what it takes to catch the reigning Constructors’ Champions but that it’ll all depend how “how long’ it’ll take the Silver Arrows “to do their homework”.

“It is possible to reduce the gap? Of course,” added Schumacher. “The question is, how long will it take Mercedes to do their homework? Hopefully, the car will still be strong enough then.”