The pace shown by F1’s top two teams at the season opening Bahrain Grand Prix left Mercedes in no doubt that its form had been hit by new rules introduced this year.
In particular, it believes that changes to the floor aimed at cutting downforce have hurt lowrake cars like its own and Aston Martin much more than high-rake models like Red Bull.
Aston Martin even went as far as suggesting the rule changes resulted in its car losing one second per lap of performance compared to high-rake rivals.
Sky Sports F1 pundit Brundle is not convinced that the rake issue offers the full explanation behind Mercedes apparent pace struggles.
He is confident that despite its early struggles with the W12, the Brackley squad will “get it together” as he still thinks Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton are the team/driver combination to beat.
“I think the rake thing is a little bit of a distraction and I think the Mercedes is not really working that well at the moment,” Brundle told Autosport.
“Red Bull and Honda are working particularly well, as are a few other cars.
“The regulations mean you can’t just keep throwing new upgrades at it every week like they have perhaps done in the past, but Mercedes will get it together.
“[Lewis] Hamilton and Mercedes are still the combo to beat for the world championship.”
The cars of Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, 1st position, and Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12, 3rd position, in Parc Ferme
Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images
Looking ahead to next weekend’s race at Imola, Brundle is predicting another closely fought contest between Mercedes and Red Bull.
The ex-F1 driver turned distinguished broadcaster says that Hamilton’s Bahrain victory proved that Mercedes, even on the back foot, cannot be underestimated.
“It depends what they do to their car in between times,” added Brundle, when asked if he thought Mercedes would have a tougher battle to overcome Red Bull at Imola.
“It is obviously more limited as to what you can change anyway now.
“I wouldn’t underestimate Mercedes. I mean everybody is talking about rake and how it has damaged Mercedes and therefore Aston Martin, but unless I’m mistaken, a Mercedes won the race in Bahrain with Red Bull having dominated the last race [in Abu Dhabi] last year.
“I think it will be really close, they will sort the Mercedes out.
“Hamilton was absolutely magnificent in Bahrain and for me he won the race as much as anybody else lost it, or any team lost it.
“I really don’t know who will be best around Imola and that is the wonderful thing about live sport.”