F1 Testing: Mercedes Give an Epic Response to ‘Sandbagging’ Claims

Published 03/16/2021, 5:19 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – Pre-Season Testing – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain – March 12, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in action during testing REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed


Mercedes had a less than ideal testing session in Bahrain, which saw them complete the least laps out of all the ten teams. The German team was beset by reliability as well as balance issues to the car. However, this underperformance has not been taken at face value by their rivals. 

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has publicly accused Mercedes of ‘sandbagging,’ or deliberately underperforming in preseason so that rivals get lulled into not looking more closely at their updates for the new season.

Horner cited 2019 when the German team supposedly had problems in preseason. They had also, in the aftermath of that preseason, conceded that Ferrari had the fastest car. This proved to be false as they romped to victories in the first eight races of that season. 

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The German team have chosen to respond to Horner‘s accusations hilariously.

Mercedes responds to sandbagging rumors in a fun way

Mercedes took to Twitter to give the appropriate response to the Red Bull boss’ sandbagging claims. They added the word sandbagging to the list of words they’ve muted on Twitter. 

This follows something they did on February 19 when they muted races where Mercedes didn’t have the best of performances. The team are clearly looking to refute these claims in the smoothest way possible. 


Their driver Valtteri Bottas has also publicly joked about the team ‘sandbagging’ in the testing event at Bahrain.

Can the German team’s problems be taken at face value before the season starts?

Horner’s comments do give a different perspective to Mercedes’ problems. However, ultimately his claims could turn out to be entirely baseless; he could be trying to quell the expectations after Red Bull had a stellar testing program. 

What people should keep in mind is even if the German team are looking to sandbag, they wouldn’t deliberately complete the least laps over the three days. 

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Even during the 2019 preseason testing, they finished with the second-most laps completed but struggling in terms of pace. Completing fewer laps means there would be less data for the team to analyze, especially in a condensed testing schedule.

Formula One F1 – Pre-Season Testing – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain – Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas in action during testing REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

Actually, this would continue to substantiate the murmurs which were coming out of the team regarding the power unit. The team now haves less than two weeks to rectify whatever problems plagued them in testing.

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If they manage to win the season opener at Bahrain on March 28, those sandbagging claims could be considered. But if they continue to struggle behind Red Bull, that means they have a serious problem on their hands. 

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Ashish Thomas

211 articles

Ashish Thomas is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. Having followed motorsports since age 5, Ashish holds an enviable knowledge of F1 history. Ashish holds extensive experience in sports writing, having previously worked for SportsQuest and Fansided.

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