Mercedes Admit “Red Bull Are Ahead on Performance” Following Dismal F1 Testing

Published 03/19/2021, 3:54 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – Pre-Season Testing – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain – Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in action during testing REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed


Mercedes will enter the upcoming 2021 season following a not so smooth off-season or preseason. They took time to get the Lewis Hamilton extension across the line, agreeing to the same merely 50 days ahead of the season opener in Bahrain. Furthermore, their preseason testing program was less than ideal. The word within the camp is that they expect a tough season and Red Bull would be a worthy adversary.

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Mercedes finished the very condensed testing period of three days bottom of the table in terms of laps run. The Mercedes W12 looked hard to maneuver and resulted in Hamilton spinning off the track twice. They also had gearbox problems that plagued Valtteri Bottas.

Mercedes expects Red Bull to challenge them very closely in 2021

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In a video on Mercedes’ YouTube channel which featured James Vowles, Motorsport Strategy Director, and Andrew Shovlin Trackside Engineering Director debriefing the Bahrain test, Vowles spoke about how they expect 2021 to be a challenging year.

Vowles revealed how the German team will treat every season as a close one. He said, “I’d start with, with what’s it’s worth every season feels very close to us. None of them feel particularly easy or straightforward.”

“But where we finish that test, there’s a lot of unknowns. No one up and down the paddock will be able to pinpoint exactly where they are.”

The Englishman was impressed by the improvement shown by Red Bull. He said, “But there’s a few trends that have come out. I’d say Red Bull are ahead on performance, they’re the class act from the test. But it’s a test, it’s not a race, and it’s one event out of 23.”

The 41-year-old believes that the battle will be neck and neck and would depend on the particular track. He said, “Are we going to have a close season? I would say so. Red Bull are a fierce adversary. They’ve got a strong package and clearly came out the box very very quick.”

“The result of that is across a season and across different types of track layouts, I’m sure you’ll see us move forwards and backward relative to them.”

Will the German team solve their problems before the opening race in Bahrain?

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Mercedes is a really experienced operator, and the team’s seven consecutive Constructors titles are evidence of that. They will draw from their past experience of setbacks and definitely try to bounce back in time for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

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

The problems they’re having are basically adjusting to the aerodynamic regulations. These have seen floor design take major precedence, and Mercedes looks to have difficulty implementing a high rake to complement them. 

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If they can rectify that, we’ll most probably see the familiar sight of Mercedes 1-2 at race tracks near us. Anyway, the uncertainty has made the lead-up to the season exciting, and let’s hope it remains so.

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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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