Mercedes really finished with 2021?
The Formula 1 season has nine races and the battle that many followers of the sport have been yearning for has arrived – and appears to be over. But, as the Tower of Power might understand, Red bull came to play at the Bahraini Grand Prix to open the season.
Max Verstappen took pole and provided the omen for 2021. Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes responded by scoring the victory with a nice strategic call. Still, Red Bull not only presented a challenge to the defending champions, but looked like the best car.
Red Bull have now won the last four races, with Verstappen taking three wins and Sergio Perez taking one. The team has a 252-212 margin over Mercedes in the championship. With another race to come at the Red Bull Ring, where Verstappen spanked the peloton and Mercedes looked lost, there’s no reason to believe the margin won’t be greater when the series heads to Silverstone for the British GP.
To get an idea of how much that has changed this year, it’s time to look at the past five years and the manufacturer’s standings after race ninth.
|2016||Mercedes – 295||Ferrari – 192||103|
|2017||Mercedes – 287||Ferrari – 254||33|
|2018||Ferrari – 247||Mercedes – 237||ten|
|2019||Mercedes – 363||Ferrari – 228||135|
|2020||Mercedes – 325||Red Bull – 173||152|
Every year except 2020 the ninth race has taken place in Austria, the site of last weekend’s Styrian GP as well as the next GP.
One of the first things that become evident is both the quality of Ferrari but also its downfall since the FIA held the closed-door meeting with the team regarding its powertrain. The team is still recovering from the quiet reprimand they received.
A second observation is that Mercedes has not won all the titles it has won. That Ferrari actually led the Silver Arrows after nine races seems to be almost fiction at this point. Mercedes has been so good for so long that it seems like they’ve dodged every challenge.
But in 2018, it was only thanks to Hamilton’s five-game winning streak after the summer break that led Mercedes to win the championship, something she claimed after the penultimate race.
What also stands out is how well Mercedes beat the competition in 2020. The gap between the first and second looks like a historic hype and shows a team at its peak.
And yet, the drop between 2020 and 2021 promises to be just as surprising. Seeing the Nascent Arrows is unusual, and nothing supports this idea better than Hamilton asking for upgrades and Mercedes big boss Toto Wolff indicating none are yet to come.
Wolff said last weekend that the team is focused on the 2022 car at this point and the team will not be moving their resources to 2021. He claimed the team will still be in contention for wins and that the team will still be vying for the wins. ‘she would always find ways to improve performance.
But, alas, Mercedes may still have some improvements to come, which might not be enough to catch up with Red Bull.
James Allison, on the technical side of the Mercedes, insisted the team still had improvements for the MB21. While the comment may seem at odds with Wolff’s statement, the two aren’t completely at odds themselves.
Wolff may be telling the truth and says the team has moved their engineering target to 2022. That doesn’t mean the team hasn’t worked on upgrades and they’re finally ready to go. put on track.
Mercedes has done well in the past and there is little reason to believe it won’t. Winning seven titles gives a little proof of the idea.
One of the question marks that will surround such changes is whether or not the upgrades will provide the expected performance benefit. The reason for any doubt comes from Allison himself.
A long-time figure in the sport, having worked at Benetton, Ferrari and Renault, Allison has been with Mercedes since 2017. His technical expertise is noted and the results he has achieved with each of the teams where he has worked are excellent.
But Allison stepped down as CTO in April and moved on to a more supervisory role as the team’s CTO. In the newly created CTO position, Allison focuses more on long-term team planning.
One area of concern could be that the engineering department reshuffle caused Mercedes’ performance to decline; that upgrades will not bring desired results.
Mercedes faced a similar challenge when Paddy Lowe left the team and moved to Williams, which was when Allison took over. The current change does not seem to come with the same confidence. While Mike Elliot probably has all the tech skills he needs, he has yet to hold the same type of job as Allison during his various stops.
There is every reason to believe that Mercedes has sufficiently prepared Elliot, but until the team gets the victories while he is technical director there will always be questions.
At this point there are all signs that Red Bull is continuing a fantastic season and closing the final races with the current car with a championship. Unless Mercedes is really ready to fight Red Bull to extend its dynasty.