After the weekend in Monaco Mercedes lost their spot in both of the championships to Red Bull, after Lewis Hamilton was able to score only seven points and Valtteri Bottas was out of the race due to a wheel nut failure that came up during the pitstop. As a result, Hamilton fell to second position in the championship, replaced by Max Verstappen, who due to his win also boosted Red Bull into the first place in the constructors championship.
Mercedes struggled with their pace from the beginning of the Monaco GP weekend, having an issue with warming up the tyres, that meant both Ferrari and Red Bull put a much better performance during the qualifying. The team, in the past five years, was only able to win once, with the victory of Lewis Hamilton in 2019. Although the team has accepted that the streets of Monte Carlo are usually a place of struggle for their cars, the Technical Director of Mercedes James Allison believes the team still needs to find out why it happens every year.
As he said: “I think if you are a proper anorak and if you look at our team’s performance at this track over the last several seasons, you would see that in years where we have won championships at some ease, we have nevertheless struggled here.”
“Although we have generally been on a path that has delivered a car that is broad-sworded weapon that you can attack most tracks with, this has been an Achilles’ heel.”
He continued: “Ironically [for] a car which one of its best weapons has been the usage of its tyres at circuit after circuit after circuit, this particular track, we always struggled a bit with that.
“We are normally all out of ideas with a tyre that has died a little sooner than our competitors and it is understanding that which we have failed to do for a number of seasons. We need to figure out from first principles what are we getting wrong at this track, and what are we doing year on year, that is just not right for here.”
The track has been never a strong point of the Mercedes F1 team. Their driver, Lewis Hamilton, believes it has to do with the particular design of their car. As he said: “This has never generally been a strong track for us. We have the longest car, the longer the car means it is like a bus to turn through corners, so it is not as nimble as the others on a small track like this but it is great elsewhere.”
Obviously, with a car that is supposed to run around many different tracks with different specs, its hard to come up with a design that is gonna be perfect all year round. Even in the seasons where Mercedes dominated the field from the get-go, there were still races that one would admit flawed the reputation of team. It is also hard to predict certain events, or even human failures.
The boss of Mercedes F1 Toto Wolff said after the race: “But in our case, we know where we need to optimise the car, how we need to get the tyres in a better window. And you’re building a car for 23 races, and there will be outliers in both directions where you will underperform. Monaco is definitely an outlier where you need a totally different car to, let’s say, the average tracks.”