The Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team has an unbeaten record in both the World Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship since the turbo hybrid V6 era. But could 2021 see the end of that amazing run of seven consecutive double crowns?
Its incredible to see what Mercedes have achieved since their return to Formula 1, but 2021 could be their toughest year yet. Not the kind of news Lewis Hamilton will be looking for as he bids to break yet more records.
What Happened in 2020?
Hamilton secured his record-equalling seventh Drivers’ title last year, winning eleven of the seventeen races, although he only raced in sixteen as he missed the Sakhir Grand Prix thanks to his contraction of coronavirus.
It quite possibly could have been more wins but for penalties in the Italian and Russian Grand Prix, but ultimately it was a year of domination by the Briton, who won the title by one hundred and twenty-seven points.
Team-mate Valtteri Bottas took two of the other victories available in Austria and Russia, but more often than not he was playing second best to Hamilton. In fact, five of his six second place finishes were as runner-up to the World Champion.
George Russell replaced Hamilton in Sakhir and proved himself a formidable force, leading for much of the day before pit lane issues compromised his race and left him down in ninth place at the chequered flag.
Mercedes also dominated the Constructors’ Championship thanks to their thirteen victories, beating Red Bull Racing by more than two-hundred and fifty points. There engine can also lay claim to a fourteenth victory in 2020 thanks to Sergio Pérez’s victory for the BWT Racing Point Formula One Team in Sakhir!
What Has Changed at Mercedes…
The biggest change at Mercedes has been the departure of engine boss Andy Cowell, who has been an instrumental part of the team during the turbo hybrid era. He has been replaced in the role by Hywel Thomas.
Aside from that, it has been a stable winter for the team, with both Hamilton and Bottas remaining as team-mates for a fifth season and Toto Wolff remaining as Team Principal.
With regards to their tokens, Mercedes have not disclosed where they have used their allocation, with Wolff saying: ‘not everything needs to be put to the public’. Their secrecy could mean they arrive at the first race with a different car to what they tested last week.
What to Expect in 2021…
If pre-season testing is anything to go by, then 2021 could be the most difficult year Mercedes have faced since the introduction of the turbo hybrid engines. Red Bull Racing looked really strong in comparison, whereas there were concerns at Mercedes about the stability of the car.
The rear of the car, an area where downforce has been reduced significantly between last year and this, has been a big area of worry for Mercedes, with both Hamilton and Bottas offering complaints.
It would be wild to assume that Mercedes won’t find a solution, they have not been at the very top for all this time without solving problems, but this is perhaps their biggest to date.
Red Bull may go into the new season as favourites, but Mercedes, and Hamilton in particular, will be looking to build on their legacy. Hamilton is just two pole positions away from one hundred, and he is just five wins away from the same number of victories. Bottas too needs a strong year if he is to cement himself at Mercedes beyond this season, especially with Russell looking over his shoulder.
2021 may see the dominant run of Mercedes come to an end, but they will not go down without a fight.