“The Empire Strikes Back!” – Mercedes CEO Wolff Issues Warning to Red Bull After Successful Qualifying

Published 07/16/2021, 3:45 PM EDT
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 12: Mercedes GP Executive Director Toto Wolff smiles as he speaks with members of the media next to St Kilda beach during previews to the Australian Formula One Grand Prix on March 12, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)


Despite enduring a tough practice session earlier today, Mercedes got their act together in the first Friday qualifying session since 2003. Although Max Verstappen put on another strong showing, Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position for F1’s first sprint race tomorrow.

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While the Briton lifted Mercedes’ spirits, CEO Toto Wolff admitted their setup helped them strike back today.

Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff content with their performance in qualifying

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Although Hamilton claimed pole, his time was just 0.07s quicker than Verstappen’s. Despite Red Bull’s pace threatening their title defence, this result for the Silver Arrows might just be what they needed in an intense title fight.

In addition, Valtteri Bottas‘ P3 classification aids their strategy to attack Verstappen in tomorrow’s sprint race. With Sergio Perez starting fifth, the pressure is on championship leader Verstappen to try and win the sprint race to start at the front of the grid.

However, Hamilton also faces the pressure to deliver in front of a capacity crowd at Silverstone. Should the Briton finish second best to his Dutch rival tomorrow, he faces the risk of slipping further back in the driver’s championship.

Despite their turbulent season, Wolff believes Mercedes made a positive step in terms of progress today. In addition, he also issued an indirect warning to Red Bull ahead of tomorrow’s sprint race.

He said“The empire strikes back. It‘s “just” qualifying. But maybe we unlocked something.” However, he also admitted the Silver Arrows focusing on their race setup might have made Red Bull take a step back.

Can the Silver Arrows upstage Red Bull this weekend?

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Although Mercedes looked quick in qualifying, Red Bull come into Silverstone with better form. In fact, the Austrian outfit have five race wins on the trot, with Verstappen taking four of those. However, if there’s one track the Silver Arrows can bounce back at, it’s Silverstone.

Formula One F1 – British Grand Prix – Silverstone Circuit, Silverstone, Britain – July 16, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton celebrates after finishing first in the sprint race qualifying REUTERS/Peter Cziborra

With Hamilton winning a record seven races at his home track, today’s pole position might just be the boost he needs to bounce back this season. However, with free tire choices allowed for the sprint race, all eyes will be on his battle with Verstappen.

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Sanket Nair

349 articles

Sanket Nair is an F1 Author at EssentiallySports. A Sports Management student, he is a huge fan of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo and hopes to see Red Bull break Mercedes' dominance and win the World Championship soon. Sanket has been hooked to the sport ever since he watched the battle for the 2010 World Championship go down to the wire at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

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