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F1 | Mercedes 'don't really have any strengths' over Red Bull in 2021

Mercedes' trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said: “We don't really have any strengths relative to them.” when comparing the W12 to the RB16B.

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F1 | Mercedes 'don't really have any strengths' over Red Bull in 2021
Fuente imagen: Hasan Bratic Motorlat

At the time Sir Lewis Hamilton crossed the line first to win the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, the delight was clear to see on the face of Mercedes’ Team Principal Toto Wolff. It was very clear that Red Bull Racing were the likelier team to win prior to the weekend and right up to midway through the race…so no wonder all supporting the Silver Arrows were so pleased. However, when discussing Mercedes’ chances for the W12 against Red Bull Racing’s RB16B, the team’s trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said: “We don't really have any strengths relative to them.”

In the battles of the past against Scuderia Ferrari and Red Bull Racing, one of the strengths of Mercedes AMG-Petronas Formula One team has been their strategists. Once again, on Sunday, a bold strategy; superb tyre management and the experience of Sir Lewis Hamilton knowing exactly where to place his W12 on track to prevent Max Verstappen being unable to pass him without exceeding track limits – brought home the victory. Nevertheless, comments published on motorsport.com indicate that Mercedes know they have a long way to go still.  

The trackside engineering director for Mercedes AMG-Petronas Formula One Team, Andrew Shovlin, told the motorsport publication:

“We don't really have any strengths relative to them…We've had a lot of years where we've been able to rely on straight-line speed, or high-speed cornering or interconnecting corners. But you look at it here and we weren't taking any time out of them anywhere.

"There were a couple of corners where they really took chunks out of us in qualifying: the high-speed and also Turn 9/10, they were very strong there. And that's really the main thing. In qualifying we're just bang on their pace in our best corners and they're quicker in the others. So we need a faster car, as simple as that.”

Seven-time F1 Champion Sir Lewis Hamilton has won the Formula One Drivers’ Championship the last four years in a row. However, Sunday’s victory was the first time Hamilton has won the opening race of a season since 2015. Therefore, Mercedes and Hamilton have shown that they have been slow out of the blocks in recent years – but since 2017, the Briton has won the title all the same.

“We've had some tough years in the past few seasons, this is not alien to us and is what we've got to work with,” Shovlin said. “It's two teams that look to be pretty much neck and neck at the moment. I think it's going to be a tough year.

“There's no doubt Red Bull operate really well. They're a sharp, well-focused team that don't make many mistakes. Max is clearly a very mature, very smart racer now and he's difficult - and they develop well.

“They've shown over every season they've got the capacity to put a lot of performance on the car. So, regardless of the start point, this is not going to be an easy championship. It's going to be tight and it's one we're not going to give up on. And they're going to tell you the same.”

Prior to their season opening victory in Bahrain, Mercedes AMG-Petronas Formula One Team Principal Toto Wolff spoke with the official website of the team on www.mercedesamgf1.com and made clear exactly what the strengths of his team are:

"While these cars share some parts from their predecessors, there have also been significant rule changes to interpret and overcome. We have also had to change the way we work in response to the cost cap. But as we have found before, it's from the difficult moments that we learn the most. This team's biggest strengths are our people and our values, and after a tough test, I know that we can fight back stronger. I'm looking forward to getting this new and exciting season underway, seeing the progress we can make and how we fare in Bahrain."

How the team fared in Bahrain, as we all know now, was as race victors.

As things stand, Red Bull Racing may have the superior car but Mercedes has the strength of Sir Lewis Hamilton which ensured the opening round of the 2021 F1 season went the way of the Silver Arrows.

For as much as the W12 may not technically have any strengths over the RB16B, there is no doubt that the team has the capability and personnel to get back up to speed in no time. Therefore, if Red Bull Racing and any other challengers to Mercedes’ crown wish to stand any chance of success they must capitalize on their advantage…before it is too late.


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