‘Very Difficult to Recover’ – Wolff Hints at a Tough 2021 F1 Season for Mercedes Despite Lewis Hamilton’s Race Win

Published 04/03/2021, 1:35 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – Bahrain Grand Prix – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain – March 26, 2021 Mercedes’ Team Principal Toto Wolff with Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner during the press conference FIA/Handout via REUTERS

Going into the race day of season-opening weekend in Bahrain, it pretty much looked like Red Bull could seal the victory over the struggle-induced Mercedes AMG F1 team.


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However, despite the lack of pace, fortunes stood on Mercedes’ side as Lewis Hamilton stole the race win from Max Verstappen; all thanks to the seven-time world champion’s incredible defense tactics and the team’s timely strategic decisions.

Mercedes’ boss, Toto Wolff, too, reckoned that the “racing gods” were on his side during the race, which helped the team shy away from what could have been a P2-P3 finish rather than a P1-P3.


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However, the Austrian investor is very much aware of the fact that fortunes don’t stick for long. And despite being more or less at par with Red Bull in terms of pace in the long run, there are massive concerns in one-lap pace.

Hence, the possibilities of Red Bull blitzing past Mercedes in the coming days are looking imminent, according to Wolff.

What did Toto Wolff say?

Speaking to F1, Wolff acknowledged Mercedes were nearly 0.4 seconds off Red Bull during the qualifying session at Bahrain GP. Hence, he felt it might be nearly impossible to recover such an enormous gap to the rivals.

Yes, we were four-tenths off in qualifying and that’s quite a gap and very difficult to recover,” he said. “We knew that they have a good race car, whether it is enough to reduce that gap wasn’t very clear.”

Formula One F1 – Bahrain Grand Prix – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain – March 27, 2021 Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff before practice REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

What’s a bigger concern for Mercedes is that Valtteri Bottas looked nowhere near the comfort zone throughout the weekend. The Finn struggled quite a lot and constantly lapped slower than his in-form teammate.

Hence, Red Bull might be feeling that the usual Mercedes’ double-trouble is no longer a headache to the team, and Max can finally shower his entire focus on Lewis amid the duo’s rising rivalry.

They are extremely difficult to beat: Mercedes boss

Wolff revealed that Bahrain was never the strongest suit for Red Bull. And despite the substantial disadvantage, Max ended up just 0.7 seconds behind the Mercedes of Lewis by the end of the race.

Hence, Wolff reckoned that there are bigger threats heading the team’s way, possibly as early as the approaching race weekend in Imola.

Formula One F1 – Bahrain Grand Prix – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain – March 28, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton celebrates winning the race with the team Pool via REUTERS/Lars Baron

Bahrain was always not the strongest race for Red Bull. And also they haven’t been particularly good out of the blocks. And this weekend shows that all that is not the case anymore in 2021,” he said.


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So I have no doubt that they are extremely difficult to beat. They are the ones that are leading the pack. And I think today the racing gods were on our side.”

Overall, it looks like the fans’ wishes have finally come alive. This season definitely holds the capability to produce a tough fight for the title after what has been a rather straightforward set of years since the dawn of the hybrid era. But will Max manage to put an end to the Mercedes’ run of form?


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Rohit Kumar

635 articles

Rohit Kumar is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. He has been an ardent follower of the racing series since 2007, with his love for the sport coinciding with his love for Kimi Raikkonen. He is also an ardent follower of Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin Racing.