Mercedes’ Formula 1 season
Report mark: 8.4
Opposition in the hybrid era, Mercedes has had relatively little of it. In the first half of the season of 2017 and 2018, Ferrari was able to put them to the test with Sebastian Vettel, but after the summer break, the fun was quickly over. It cannot therefore be compared with the opposition Mercedes has faced in 2021 and precisely that aspect has surfaced in recent weeks in a way that does not immediately deserve the beauty prize.
From modified floor to fastest car
Before that, however, the sporty picture must be discussed. For example, Wolff and co were faced with a negative surprise during the winter test in Bahrain. Mercedes was not at the top of the times list and actually struggled in anonymity. Although Wolff expressed his genuine concerns, many in the paddock still thought about playing hide and seek. Because hey, haven’t we all seen this game before? Mercedes that tries to throw sand in everyone’s eyes to hit back mercilessly at the season opener. It was a scenario where many dared to bet their money, although – despite Hamilton’s victory in Bahrain – that would be an expensive joke.
Due to the low rake concept, the blackened Silver Arrows were indeed hit harder by the modified floor than Red Bull. Due to the high rake, the Max Verstappen formation has a diffuser that is larger in volume, Mercedes was able to compensate for this with the rear floor section thanks to the longer wheelbase. The brand with the star could use that part as an extension of the diffuser, although the emphasis here must be on the word ‘could’. Because of the diagonal notch and the ban on the so-called ‘enclosed holes’, the Mercedes concept received a significant blow in 2021. So no playing hide and seek, but real work to be done.
The way Mercedes has done that work is to be commended. Lewis Hamilton, for example, often had the fastest car in the field in the second half of the season and Mercedes has turned things around perfectly with several updates. It also immediately shows how such a well-oiled machine Wolff’s championship formation is. The rear wing that was driven in Brazil may not have been right with today’s knowledge, but apart from that, the total package of the second half of the season was very strong. In other words, Bahrain’s damage was repaired and the amount of downforce lost. It has given Mercedes its eighth constructors title in a row and also seemed to give Hamilton his eighth world title in Abu Dhabi.
Not great in loss
As is known, a late safety car decided otherwise and what happened afterwards also says something about Mercedes. It has shown the normally so chic team from a completely different side. The team is great in winning, but it turned out that with Wolff in the front, they are not immediately ready to deal with loss. If losing is an art, Mercedes has shown that it cannot be completely mastered yet. Perhaps that is precisely what makes the team pure winners and is a building block of success, but showing up with a lawyer and speaking out loud of manipulation does the sport more harm than good.
It has turned Sunday at the Yas Marina Circuit – on which Mercedes did not make a tactical mistake for the first time – into a kind of soap opera and may not have provided the Mercedes brand with the very best advertising. It also means that Mercedes deserves a high score for the turnaround and all the work in the factory, but that the course of events after the flag has fallen leaves a somewhat strange aftertaste. Not only with Wolff and Hamilton, but also in a completely different way with the neutral Formula 1 viewer.