Toto Wolff ‘Knows’ Red Bull a “Major Threat” to Mercedes: Ex-F1 Champion

Published 04/01/2021, 3:00 AM EDT
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 15: Mercedes GP Executive Director Toto Wolff looks on in the Team Principals Press Conference during practice for the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)


The 2021 F1 season-opener couldn’t have been more thrilling. After years of Mercedes’ domination, Red Bull finally managed to rattle their chain in Bahrain. Even if Red Bull couldn’t cross the finish line first, Mercedes know that they have a fight on their hands this year.

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This view is shared by everyone, from fans to experts following the current season. And who better than a former world champion to validate that claim?

“The battle between Lewis and Valtteri at Mercedes, and Max and Sergio at Red Bull, is going to be really fascinating,” wrote Mika Häkkinen in his column for ‘Unibet’.

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Formula One F1 – Bahrain Grand Prix – March 28, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in action. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

The flying Finn is not alien to evenly matched battles in F1. His championship victories in 1998 and 1999 went down to the wire against Ferrari. Hence, he can foresee something similar brimming this year.

He believes that Toto Wolff‘s jubilant celebrations in Bahrain were a testament to that. Their throne is now under attack from Red Bull after ruling the sport without any challenge for the last few years.

“Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is a very determined guy, and you could see how happy he was with the win in Bahrain. It looked like he had just won his first race! He knows that Red Bull boss Christian Horner and the men and women have created a major threat to Mercedes’ domination.”

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Important for Mercedes to focus on strategy and force ‘quickest car’ Red Bull into a corner

Red Bull carried over their dominant pre-season form into the opening race. Their work over the winter to develop their car and engine has paid off for them. Max Verstappen took a pole and was the favorite to win the race until Mercedes’ strategy calls and Lewis Hamilton‘s brilliant driving denied them.

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“Mercedes are having to learn how to respond to the Red Bull challenge,” noted Häkkinen.

Formula One F1 – Bahrain Grand Prix – March 28, 2021, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton celebrates winning the race on the podium. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

“When you don’t have the quickest car it’s important to focus on strategy to try and force your competitors into a corner. This is what Mercedes managed to do on Sunday by getting Lewis to undercut Max during the first pit stops.”

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That’s the way to go for Mercedes this season if they can’t develop a car as powerful as the RB16B. They need all their experience and driving skills, now more than ever in this turbo-hybrid era.

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Bharat Aggarwal

757 articles

Bharat Aggarwal is a sports analyst for EssentiallySports, covering Formula 1 and NBA. A Delhi University graduate, Bharat has multi-year experience in sports writing, having closely worked with the content strategy aspect as well. Bharat Aggarwal supports Manchester United, Lewis Hamilton, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rafael Nadal, Dirk Nowitzki, Sachin Tendulkar, Ayrton Senna, Kristaps Porzingis, and Dallas Mavericks.

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