Former Renault driver and F1 pundit Jolyon Palmer suspects that Mercedes' rise to the front in Barcelona was more circumstantial than anything. The race in Spain was a bit of a surprise when after struggling on Friday, the German unit turned things around.
After a few sighter laps, it started to become apparent that Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell had the pace to beat everybody except Max Verstappen in the race. The team ended the race with a double podium as Russell and Hamilton found themselves sharing a podium for the first time this season.
In all of this though, optimism around the team has grown quite a bit with many touting the team's upgrades as game-changers. Jolyon Palmer, however, feels that all of this could be a bit circumstantial as the team's rise coincided with the struggles of Ferrari and Aston Martin. In his column in F1.com, Palmer said,
“Mercedes were the talk of the race, securing their double podium. They have significant upgrades on the car and on the face of it, it looks like they are yielding immediate results. However, this has always been a strong Mercedes circuit. Last year, George Russell was fighting for the lead and ended up third, while Lewis Hamilton put in an eyebrow-raising performance from the back of the field."
“It’s more likely that whilst the upgrades worked, the track characteristics also enhanced their performance. Canada, in a couple of weeks’ time, might be a more interesting comparison, as it’s more akin to the street circuits we’ve had thus far."
Mercedes could replicate its 2022 F1 season in 2023 as well
Praising the German outfit for finding the correct development direction, the former Renault driver felt that the team could be looking at a repeat of the 2022 F1 season. Last season as well, the team started the season on the back foot but as the season progressed, the team continued to get better and better.
In his column, Palmer says,
"They seem to be on the correct development path now, though. So, like last year, they should only get more competitive from here. The gap to Red Bull and Max Verstappen remains large, though, and Mercedes were also flattered by their rivals underperforming.”
Both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell would be hoping that the team is able to show improvements. If by midseason or a bit later, the team is able to challenge for victories, that would be a target achieved for the team.