The fact that Mercedes cannot win three races in a row is a novelty in the modern hybrid era of formula 1, which started 2014. But the golden years of the silver arrows seem to be coming to an end: this is the new reality,”sports director Toto Wolff sighs and admits that the”pretty bad”feels.
By the end of the golden years Wolff still does not believe:”If we saw this, we would not have the right attitude! We have shown in the past that we can recover from difficult times, and I am learning to appreciate these difficult days even somewhat more, because they help us to understand the car better and to develop further. The team has always made the best of such phases so far.”
We remember back: 2017 had Sebastian Vettel after six races 25-point lead on Lewis Hamilton, but in the end Mercedes became a relatively sovereign world champion.” It was also 2017 that Ferrari looked good, but then they broke in,”says Damon Hill, World Champion of 1996.”But I have the feeling that this year it will become a trend.”
“A race can be good luck, but now it was the third weekend in a row, Ferrari was able to keep Mercedes in check,”today’s TV expert fears.
The formula-1 story speaks against Mercedes. Every great era has come to an end. McLaren won between 1984 and 1991 seven out of eight possible drivers and six out of eight possible design titles. 1994, 1995, and 1996, the team did not celebrate a single Grand Prix victory.
Williams: A total crash into meaninglessness
Between 1992 and 1997, Williams became four-time world champion of drivers and five-time designers. 1998, 1999 and 2000 there was no winner’s cup. Ferrari set out between 2000 and 2004 for a one-time success with five World Cup doubles. And if the Michelin cars had not withdrawn in Indianapolis 2005, the Scuderia would have remained without full success that year.
Between 2010 and 2013 was then four times Red Bull- a period as long as Mercedes’s dominance has lasted until now. After all, Daniel Ricciardo won three more times, but 2015 did not win the Grand Prix. This shows: Statistically, almost every success lap ends after four to five years.
“It is inevitable in all sports that winning will eventually become more difficult or stop altogether,” says Red Bull team leader Christian Horner from experience. “It is inevitable that winning will eventually become more difficult or stop altogether.” Mercedes still has a very fast car, but it’s amazing they haven’t won one after three races. However, I am sure that they will win again in the near future. But such cycles belong to it – and every cycle ends at some point.”
This usually has not one, but many reasons. For example, that important personnel are taken away from the competition. One development that can hardly be resisted: When employees from other teams receive lucrative offers, the point is eventually reached, which you can no longer take with you financially because otherwise the salary structure would explode.
Hamilton: Silent sounds at the driver’s parade
Even Hamilton is slowly dawning that it will not b e easy to become World Champion again 2018. During the driver’s parade before the start in Shanghai he was asked what he said to fans who fear that the Mercedes er a might end and Ferrari could now take over. His answer: “Perhaps they are right. But we will try to prove them wrong.”
Mercedes has also lost in Australia, Bahrain and China, because the strategists have not done everything right. 2018 faces new challenges: “Now it’s tens of seconds and no longer easy seconds they’ve had in recent years with a totally superior car,” analyses “ORF” expert Alexander Wurz.
It’s one thing to manage the strategic orientation of a race when you are in the lead. Then it’s all about finding the right gaps and not making any serious carvings. It’s getting harder back there. Suddenly all variants that also affect competition must be included. This multiplies the computing tasks that need to be solved.
Root believes: Mercedes needs to wake up
“I can really win something out of the appraisal,” finds Root. ” If you’re not used to it being so close, you don’t update your data.”Racing in Shanghai would have been a paradigm for that. Because Mercedes should have realized after Valtteri Bottas v. Vettel’s first undercut how big the tyre advantage really is.
“Then, like the Red Bull team, you would have taken the risk and brought it in during the safety car phase,” the Austrian believes. He still does not believe in a permanent problem: “They will react very quickly and learn quickly. Because the car is extremely fast.”
“People are waking up and they know it’s all about the inside now. Now the team has to sit down and say, “Okay, how do we adjust? What went wrong? Have we programmed the data incorrectly?’They simply have to work more aggressively,
Maybe Mercedes will also become a victim of self-confidence in the early stages of the World Cup. During the winter tests in Barcelona, as in previous years, the softest Pirelli tyres were deliberately not tested. Now the F1 W09 EQ Power+ has just the biggest problems.
Acted too arrogant during the winter tests?
Wolff does not believe that there is a connection there: “I think this is a coincidence. We’ll see how we handle the hyper-juice in Monaco. The tyres have different temperature windows, which is quite difficult to estimate. It’s so complex to understand, otherwise every team would know exactly what to do. I don’t think there’s a pattern.”
At the same time he has to admit to Shanghai:”We overheated the tires. We can’t handle this. We switch between too cold and overheating. In formula 1, there are no quick solutions for this.”
“You can also see how fast the hand can turn. In the tests and in Melbourne, we were told that we were going to run away in the World Cup because the car was so superior. Now three races have been run and we see that it is not so,”explains Wolff.
The conclusion drawn after Bahrain that the W09 is no longer a”diva”seems premature after China anyway. Already after qualifying on Saturday Wolff admitted: “We had a bit of a diva again today. But I don’t think she’s really a diva.”
Wolff:”Capricious”is better than”Diva”
“Maybe’capricious woman’would be a good name. Because if you hit the nail on the head, the sweet spot, then our car is great. But we did not succeed today.”
Worrying: In Shanghai it was cool on Friday and Saturday, warm on Sunday. On smooth asphalt. In Bahrain, on coarse-grained asphalt, Ferrari was also faster.” The conditions in the qualifying and racing were very different, but we were not the fastest in any of them,”says Chief Racing Engineer Andrew Shovlin.
He knows:”We have a lot of work to do. We need to improve the qualifying and racing track. We simply did not have the Pace to beat Red Bull on the same strategy, and we have to go to court very honestly with us in view of the performance of our car this weekend.”
The problem is from Mercedes’s point of view that the engineers cannot make a rhyme out of it, when the car works and when not. In qualifying in Shanghai, Hamilton and Bottas followed with ultrasound. But when they were on the second Q2-run with tougher tyres, it suddenly reached the best time, because the car was on track for a short time.
Hamilton can’t make a rhyme
“On Friday everything was still fine”, puzzles Hamilton, “but then suddenly everything was confused. And we haven’t been able to do that since Saturday.”The W09 was generally”very unstable. He can’t steer that well in many curves. This cost a lot of performance.”
In addition, the competition has awakened. Ferrari has offered all the means to finally win again, and after so many years without success the hunger in Scuderia and Red Bull is huge. In addition, it helps that Kimi can at least relate to the form of old days in the training sessions.
“Sebastian has always had Kimi under control over the last few years,” observes TV expert Paul di Resta. Now Kimi’s pushing him back, so Sebastian has to leave his comfort zone. And the car is beautifully balanced. He hits every dividing line, no matter how aggressively he climbs the gas pedal.”
But Mercedes wouldn’t be Mercedes, the team would just let it go. In the two weeks between China and Azerbaijan, a meeting will hunt the next. Even Hamilton, otherwise not known as a diligent data analyst, has announced to come to the factory in Brackley on Thursday. The best way to get back to the next race in Baku.