Martin Brundle sends Liverpool warning that will alarm Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes had the slowest straight-line speed during pre-season testing, whilst the side also struggled with the balance of the W14.

This weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix is set to be an incredibly important one for Mercedes but for all the wrong reasons, as they’ll truly discover just how far behind Red Bull they are once again.

After enduring a woeful 2022 campaign, the expectation was that they’d bounce back in pre-season testing with an excellent car; however, that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Not only was the W14 the slowest car in a straight-line, it was also a challenge to control, with both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell having admitted to having endured issues with the balance and rear grip of the car.

Russell even stopped on-track during the second day of pre-season testing, as a result of an unwanted hydraulic problem.

READ: Who were the fastest teams in Bahrain pre-season testing?

Unlike last season where their woes left them as the third strongest team, there is a real possibility that they could slip to fourth behind Aston Martin if they can’t find some pace, highlighting just how big the Silver Arrows’ problems are.

Ex-F1 driver Martin Brundle wonders if there’s a “lack of confidence” amongst the usually dominant Germans, with the driver having compared the side to Liverpool FC who are also currently struggling.

“It’s odd isn’t it right now, look at Liverpool for example,” Brundle said on Sky Sports’ The F1 Show on Monday.

“Little nuances, where you change the personnel, and there’s maybe a lack of confidence. That’s what I’m seeing at Mercedes at the moment.

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“I thought last year they would just ace that car really quickly. When we saw it in the paddock a year ago, it was like: ‘Nobody is going to see that for dust’, which was wrong.

“Clearly they’ve still got to finesse it, and they need to do it early. Remember, last year, Verstappen didn’t score any points until the second race, and still smashed the world championship. They’ll need to get in there quickly, will Mercedes Benz, and sort it.”

Fellow ex-F1 driver Karun Chandhok also discussed the team’s possible lack of “confidence” and what their next step will be should the W14 fail to deliver strong results.

The Indian driver wonders if they’ll decide to “start from scratch” should their ‘zero sidepod’ concept fail once again, with Chandhok also admitting that this season is huge for technical director Mike Elliott.

“The confidence thing is interesting,” added Sky Sports F1’s Karun Chandhok.

“We often talk about that with regards to drivers, but actually designing a race car is an art, it’s a creative process with the underpinnings of physics and mathematics, but you need the creative juice to flow.

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“These designers have come up with a concept at Mercedes, and have taken a bit of a battering. Their drivers are not happy, their team boss was pretty vocal on team radio last year, calling out what a bad car it was. And now they’ve come up with a car this year that hasn’t hit the ground running, so what happens with 2024?

“We get to the first start for this year, and maybe they’ve unlocked this untapped potential we’ve been talking about, then it’s all good. But if they don’t, then what? At what stage do they give up on this concept, and say: ‘We’re going to start from scratch for 2024’? Otherwise this spiral continues.

“This is a big year for [technical director] Mike Elliott and his design group to rebuild confidence.”