Mercedes: return to normal in France?

In difficulty for two Grands Prix, Mercedes hopes to be able to count on the return to more traditional circuits like France to revive momentum and eat into its gap on Red Bull. 

Published on 15/06/2021 à 15:21

Alexandre HERBIN

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Mercedes: return to normal in France?

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes hope to find smiles again in the Var. ©DPPI.

Mercedes is coming off two complicated weekends and it has been rare enough in recent years not to point it out. The seven small points garnered by the firm with the star reflect the lack of performance of the Black Arrows in the race. After the Baku race, there was more talk about the mistake ofHamilton only problems for Mercedes, but make no mistake: the German team has been struggling in recent weeks. Toto wolff did not hide it: “We did not have a competitive car, period. We are experiencing problems with tire temperature.” From what we observed during the last two races, Mercedes suffered quite a bit compared to its competitors on typical urban tracks. That's good, there won't be any more city tours soon. 

The French Grand Prix (June 20) could be the breath of fresh air for the Brackley team, a race to put Mercedes back at the top of the standings, in their place, the one they have occupied since the start of the era hybrid. If the overwhelming domination of the German team has become a norm, it is clear that it has been somewhat undermined in recent times. But this weekend could well mark the start of the reigning world champions’ return to business.

For what ? Because the Paul Ricard track seems cut out for them. Since 2018 and the reappearance of the French round on the calendar, the Var route has in fact always favored those which were still nicknamed the silver arrows at the time. Before packing his bags in France, the leader of the championship Max Verstappen is not completely serene. “Coming back to normal circuits, I know they will be strong and difficult to beat,” he analyzed. And for good reason, Lewis Hamilton has signed the last two poles in France, the last two victories, and only one collision suffered Valtteri Bottas in the first round in 2018 prevented the star from signing two doubles. 

There is therefore hope for Toto Wolff and his gang. In the event of failure this weekend, however, it would be a red alert. The excuse of the incompatibility of the W12 with urban routes would then no longer hold, and it would be more a question of a generalized problem. The surge of pride is all the more desirable in France as the great circus of F1 will then settle for two rounds in Austria, on a track which has often smiled on Red Bull in recent years (Verstappen won in 2018 and 2019). Mercedes' two successes in Austria in 2020 (Bottas, then Hamilton) were probably more due to the total superiority of their car rather than direct compatibility of their machine with this short but fast track. 

By the summer break, Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes should have a more precise image of the level of their car. Because after Austria, it will be Silverstone (July 18), a Grand Prix that Lewis Hamilton has already won seven times in front of his fans, and especially Hungary (August 1), which is neither more nor less than the track on which the seven-time world champion has raised his arms the most often (8 times) in his career.

If during these two rounds, Mercedes is still behind Red Bull, then there will be cause for concern. In the meantime, Mercedes is looking to the future with confidence. “We will soon be back at the forefront,” proclaims Toto Wolff. It remains to be seen when and how.

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