Mercedes has become the gold standard of measurement in F1. After wrapping up a record 7th consecutive double of Constructors and Driver’s titles this season, they are the team to beat going into the next season and beyond. They strive for excellence from within. However, there was one such external moment last season that propelled them to further glory this season.
The Italian-outfit had challenged the ‘Silver Arrows’ for engine superiority in 2018. And in 2019, they went one better and overtook their rivals in the power department. For a team that had completely mastered the turbo-hybrid era engines, it was an arrow to the heart.
The F1 community began singing widespread praises of the Ferrari power units, proclaiming it to be the new flag-bearer. Mercedes’ engine workers at Brixworth were reeling from this. And according to Technical Director James Allison, this inspired them to get their perch back.
“It’s been no fun at all for the people at Brixworth. Looking at the press, reading the comments, and hearing the plaudits that were given to their main competitors. And that did cause them to really double their efforts.”
But it wasn’t so straightforward. Increasing the revs in the power unit can come at the cost of reliability. To strike that balance, they had to overcome some obstacles. Mentioning the problems in pre-season testing, Allison said,
“In the winter testing, we were having a few bumps on the road. To try and make what was clearly a very powerful unit also a very reliable unit. But happily, by the time we got racing, that was something they had managed to do.”
Ferrari‘s ultra-powerful engine had some irregularities. They had to make a quiet settlement with the FIA and change their unit to make it within the rules. This ultimately turned their engine from the strongest in 2019 to the weakest in 2020. And Allison took a little pop at that.
“It’s ironic when you consider what pushed them into that effort.”
Indeed, it is. Mercedes have been so good that teams have almost had to bend the rules to beat them. Or at least try. One can’t point a finger at Hamilton & Co. for expected results all these years. They simply deserve it on the grounds of their brilliance.