Mercedes now ‘looks like a car that can win F1 championships’

Mercedes’ performance at the Turkish Grand Prix has helped reinstall the team’s belief that it can win both Formula 1 world championships this season.  
Mercedes now ‘looks like a car that can win F1 championships’

Valtteri Bottas claimed a dominant victory over Max Verstappen at Istanbul Park, a result which helped Mercedes pull 36 points clear of Red Bull in the constructors’ championship.

A convincing performance from teammate Lewis Hamilton saw him top qualifying, but the seven-time world champion was forced to start 11th due to a penalty for exceeding his engine allocation for the season. Hamilton recovered to finish fifth but lost the lead of the championship to Verstappen.

Despite Hamilton falling six points behind his title rival, the team’s strong showing in recent events has provided a welcome shot of confidence heading into the final six races of the year, according to Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin. 

“We’ve had a run of good form [in the] dry, we’ve shown good pace in the wet and it looks like a car that can win championships,” Shovlin said. 

“And if you go back to the early parts of the year and decisions that we’re taking on development, trying to balance the two years. 

“One of our worries was that at this end of the year, are we still going to be able to stick the car on pole, to get a front row lock-out, to control a race?

“It’s really reassuring that we’re now getting into the last six that we’ve shown we’ve got a package that can out-qualify them on a Saturday and out-race them on a Sunday.” 

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said the team’s recent upturn in competitiveness is the result of a better understanding of its 2021 car after initially being caught out by the implementation of floor changes to cut downforce levels over the winter. 

1st place Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes AMG F1 passes the team.
1st place Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes AMG F1 passes the team.

“I think we have gradually understood the car better,” Wolff explained. 

“The regulations that came in at the beginning of the year created a situation where you need to run the car where we haven’t been running in the last few years. The more we run it, the more we drive, the more we could simulate simulations, the better we have performed. 

“Where the car is today, is definitely in a much better place than it was in the spring and the summer.”

Mercedes has been tipped as favourites for this weekend’s United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas, a venue where Hamilton boasts an enviable record at, having won five of the eight races since 2012.

But Shovlin stressed Mercedes heads to COTA with the same attitude it will take into each of the remaining rounds this year.

“We’ve got to go to all these races looking at what’s going to catch us out, not what’s going to be great and easy for us,” he said. 

“We don’t really take that kind of approach. It’s just a case of looking at all the data that’s coming off the simulations, working what we need to do with the car.

“It’s a very different tarmac there but it’s a circuit that Lewis has been very strong at and it’s a track where there’s good overtaking opportunity, there’s degradation. So that changes the dynamic of the race a little bit.

“There’s no reason to think we shouldn’t be strong in Austin. But we did good preparation coming here [Turkey] and the car’s been in the right window, and that’s the thing that we need to make sure we do correctly for the next race.”

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