Johnny Herbert believes Mercedes could 'pull of a Brawn' and dominate in 2014
However, Sky pundit thinks they will struggle to win a race in 2013
By William Esler
Last Updated: 09/05/13 6:10pm
Mercedes Motorsport Director Toto Wolff admitted last month that the team would have dedicated over 50% of their resources to the new car by May as the team look to exploit the radical rule changes being introduced next season.
However, with the current car struggling for race pace due to excessive rear-tyre wear, Herbert feels the redeployment will see Mercedes effectively write the rest of 2013 off, despite Lewis Hamilton sitting third in the Drivers' Championship after four races.
"Their car is a very good one-lap, two-lap car in qualifying, but when it comes to the races we saw Nico go backwards from pole in Bahrain and Lewis has had the same thing before," Herbert said.
"To try and sort that situation out, if you look at what Ross did when it changed from Honda to Brawn and they stopped the development of that car and made a cracking car when it became a Brawn, is there a chance of them doing the same thing this year for next? Yes.
"There are big changes next year and you need to throw a lot of time and effort to develop the car in a relatively short period of time. It will be a little bit more of an unknown than it has been in recent seasons. It is a big shift and it needs a big amount of input from the guys back at the factory to turn it around so Lewis can go for a World Championship.
"That isn't going to happen this year and I don't think they will even win a race this year whilst they still have trouble with their rear-tyres."
The new regulations place a greater emphasis on energy recovery and Herbert added it will be crucial teams ensure their systems are reliable otherwise they could find themselves well off the pace.
"They are bringing us back to the turbo era of yesteryear but in a very different manner because the KERS is going to be quite a big percentage of the power," the three-time grand prix winner said.
"There will be about 150bhp coming from the KERS all the time and the problem you will see is if as happens once or twice these days when KERS fails, it is not such a big deal as it is only 50 or so horse power, but next year it will be a real issue. It is a different concept because you have the bigger KERS pack, then you have the turbos that go into it as well.
"There has been a lot of talk about the noise, but Niki Lauda says he has heard it running on the dyno and it is not that bad. I think it is an important part, the sound is something that F1 has always been about, but if it does change and it is a bit quieter as I think it will be, I think everyone will get used to it. The concept itself had to go in line with what is happening in the motoring industry and the modern technology we see in road cars where turbos have been around for a long, long time.
"Turbos weren't invented by Formula 1, they were around before that, but you have to move with the times and produce an interesting and competitive package and it is going to be very tough thing for the engineers to utilise the KERS. The aerodynamics are going to change as well and the cars will have less downforce, so that will be interesting to see if they can claim that back within the regulations. But it will be interesting to see what they are like when the run at the start of next year."