Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team had yet another strong year, their seventh in a row in the V6 turbo hybrid era. They continued to be a force to be reckoned with gaining a seventh Constructors Championship and had another World Championship for Lewis Hamilton.
Their nearest competitors in Aston Martin Red Bull Racing failed to push the Brackley outfit to the limit and the famous reds of Scuderia Ferrari were nowhere to be seen all year. It was a truly dominant year for the team with drivers Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas winning thirteen out of the seventeen races between them.
The ultimate high for the team would be their double winning year. Mercedes have shown they are the powerhouse in Formula 1 and continued to be so with both Constructors and Drivers Championships. Not only did the team achieve that feat but they done it in style. The team finished the year on 573 points, head and shoulders in front of second placed Red Bull who gained 319 points total.
Hamilton achieved his seventh title, breaking records along the way. At the Eifel Grand Prix, Hamilton equalled Michael Schumacher’s race win record of ninety-one and went on to beat it with his nineth-second race win at the Portuguese Grand Prix. He went on to finish the season on ninety-five wins. His seventh title matched him on the top spot of championship wins, again with Schumacher. Surely, we’ll see him again as he competes for his record-breaking eighth title.
The dynamic driver duo managed to complete five one-two race wins. No other team even managed to complete one. Their best races as a pairing come in the form of the Tuscan Grand Prix and the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Both races were marred by incidents and safety cars but both drivers were able to continue to have impressive drives and not let the chaos stray them away from the target of podiums.
… And The Low’s
Bottas had another season where he just wasn’t on the same level as Hamilton. Throughout the year, he got himself in some unsavoury positions. The moment that stick the most for me happened during the Sakhir Grand Prix. Bottas had his time to shine in the Mercedes when Hamilton was forced to miss a race due to a positive Covid-19 case. George Russell was subbed in from Williams Racing to cover Hamilton. Bottas started off the week, showing his dominance, by gaining pole position.
However, Russell, who qualified in second place, had already overtaken him going into turn 1. Later in the race, a safety car was brought out and due to pit stop issues, Russell found himself behind Bottas. Yet again, Russell was able to get pass the Finn with one of the overtakes of the season. Tyre issues meant Bottas was able to finish one place higher than Russell but still in a lowly eighth place. Bottas was simply outshone by someone who had only been in the car for one race, with fans calling that the young Brit replace the Finn for 2021.
Between the two, Hamilton and Bottas claimed fifteen out of the seventeen pole positions. It took Lance Stroll and a wet qualifying session at the Turkish Grand Prix to stop the streak of thirteen races this year with Mercedes on pole. To no surprise, Hamilton was the victor in the qualifying battle at Mercedes. Hamilton was higher in eleven qualifying sessions compared to Bottas’ five.
More often than not, the qualifying sessions between the duo were close yet it was Hamilton that was able to find those extra hundredths or even thousandths of a second to excel him to the top.
Going into 2021, Hamilton is now just two pole positions away from reaching one hundred in his career.
Bottas claimed the first race win of the year at the Austrian Grand Prix and it looked as if he was going to give his team-mate a run for his money. Come season end, Hamilton beat Bottas to a higher position twelve times. After finishing fourth at the Austrian Grand Prix, Hamilton went on a streak of three races wins and propelled himself to the top of the Drivers’ Championship.
Over the course of the season, Bottas could only beat Hamilton’s results on four occasions, two of those being his wins at Austria and Russia. At Russia, Bottas infamously said on the radio after his win “A nice moment to thank my critics. To whom it may concern, **** you.” He then was unable to best Hamilton’s result of five races and eventually got a second-place finish over Hamilton’s third at the season closer, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
What to look for in 2021
Unless something does horribly wrong for Mercedes in the off season, I expect them to continue on being the same powerhouse for 2021. CEO and Team Principal Toto Wolff had been in the rumour mill, dubbed with a move away from the team but has recently confirmed he is staying with Mercedes, becoming an equal shareholder alongside INEOS and Daimler, and signing a three-year deal.
So far, only Bottas is confirmed to be continuing with the team for 2021. Hamilton is still yet to sign a contract so there is still technically a seat up for grabs in the F1 circus. Although, it does seem like it is only contract negotiations that are holding Hamilton back from signing on the dotted line. I’m hoping we get to see Hamilton compete again this year, defending his title and gunning for his eighth.