Lewis Hamilton is now a Mercedes F1 employee. It’s an exciting development not just for him, but for the whole of the F1 fanbase, intrigued by whether the new partnership will achieve success.
Jackie Stewart isn’t sure. The three-time champion has concerns about both the team and their new superstar driver.
“Whether it was Stirling Moss and [Juan Manuel] Fangio, whether it was [Rudolf] Caracciola and the other great drivers of the thirties, when Mercedes were in the sport they had to win.
“And if they don’t win, they get out,” he said.
Stewart is also worried about Hamilton’s ability to deliver.
“When he’s on form, he is the quickest,” said the legendary Scot. “But [his ability] to do it consistently is not yet there.”
While Stewart does have a point with his first complaint, conversely the second one is a minority view. In 2012 Hamilton stepped up his game and seemed able to reach his astounding peak performance more regularly through the season.
The results show he only won three races, but he was robbed of at least three by reliability problems; the points from which would have made him champion for the second time.
Most expect Hamilton to put his new team-mate Nico Rosberg, firmly in his place. Rosberg is a good driver, but not a great one like Hamilton.
However, as Hamilton discovered at his time at McLaren, in F1 things aren’t that simple. Jenson Button was a generally slower driver than Hamilton but he managed to turn the focus of McLaren away from Hamilton towards himself, which severely damaged Hamilton’s chances of success.
Button did this by taking advantage of Hamilton’s reluctance to spend much effort on team camaraderie and his tendency when times were bad to sulk rather than inspire.
Hamilton will have to learn from this as Mercedes desperately look like they need a spark of inspiration.
Three seasons have passed with one of the sport’s biggest budgets, and one win is all the Brackley squad have to show for their efforts. For a team led by the legendary championship-winning Ross Brawn with also championship-winning Bob Bell as technical director this raises questions.
Worryingly for Hamilton, last season was Mercedes’ worst since their return. For the second season in a row the team ended up in a development dead-end, this time due to the double-DRS system which promised so much at first.
However, according to Ross Brawn, the descent of the team’s form during the season which culminated in five pointless races in Asia, was mainly contributable to a large restructuring of the organisation made for long-term benefit.
The team upgraded from their current 50% wind tunnel to a 60% scale wind tunnel which allows more accurate data collection and therefore gives a better correlation between simulation and racetrack performance. If this works as planned the team is likely to head up the grid to where they belong.
The second part of the restructuring was managerial. Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff were both installed as non-executive directors. This will benefit the team as it shields Ross Brawn from the non-technical matters that he was taking on as team principal, in much the same way Jean Todt did when the two were at Ferrari.
With Brawn now free to concentrate on running the technical aspects of the team, and a stronger technical resource at the squad, combined with the factor of Hamilton in the cockpit, Mercedes now have the chance of pushing up the grid next year and winning races.
Mercedes sure will be hoping the results are even half as good as Brawn’s legendary success at Ferrari.