Martin Brundle warned not to expect a Mercedes renaissance any time soon after chatting with team staff in Jeddah.
Mercedes wanted so much to come into the 2023 season as a front-runner again after enduring a very difficult campaign last year. But the Bahrain Grand Prix earlier this month only served to confirm their worst fears.
They have only the fourth fastest car on the grid and are a long way off pace-setters Red Bull in terms of performance. So now they are abandoning their car concept and developing a different machine for later in the season. It means Lewis Hamilton and George Russell are in for another tough time with a less competitive machine than they would like.
After speaking with some old pals in the Mercedes garage, former F1 racer Brundle told Sky Sports viewers that those discussions did not give him confidence that a quick fix will be found.
"It's very unusual for both Toto [Wolff] and Lewis to be anything other than super-positive about the Mercedes team," he said. "They have obviously had an incredible amount of success together.
"But there's trouble there, isn't there? The car isn't fast enough. Talking to a few people in the team, it's going to be a while before they sort it out. The boss is unhappy. He's the lightning conductor. But you win and lose together.
"This will be the biggest test of Toto's tenure. Despite all the success, it's about turning this around now. Keeping the right people involved, bringing in fresh energy, not upsetting the others, people will move on. He needs to keep Lewis onboard, he's got George who is obviously a huge talent for the future.
"I tread carefully when it comes to criticising the management of a team. Red Bull, for example, is a boulevard of activities with thousands of incredibly intelligent people working on racing cars.
"I am loathe to criticise because you see the resources, the skills, the knowledge going into it. Maybe it just needs fine-tuning. But, you know, it can be avalanche when it goes wrong. Keeping their morale high. Toto wears his heart on his sleeve and he gets angry when he's not happy."2023-03-18T15:51:06Z dg43tfdfdgfd