Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Monte-Carlo, 2016

Red Bull a “very real threat” to Mercedes

2016 Canadian Grand Prix

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Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff says the Monaco Grand Prix showed Red Bull are now a “very real threat” to their supremacy.

Daniel Ricciardo claimed pole position in Monte-Carlo and led much of the way until a mistake by the team in the pits allowed Lewis Hamilton to take the victory.

“The main thing we took away was the very real threat from Red Bull,” said Wolff. “It took a bold strategy, a big push from Lewis and an even bigger slice of luck with Daniel’s slow pit stop to get us that win.”

“I’ve said this many times before – but we have no breathing space in this championship. Maintaining any advantage is a constant battle – and the pressure is only getting bigger.”

Mercedes had further problems with their power units on both cars during qualifying in Monaco and Wolff said “there is clearly work to do” to prevent similar problems in future and called on his team to “push harder than ever”.

“There remains room for improvement in our reliability,” he said, “but the push for more performance has become increasingly important too.”

Lewis Hamilton scored his first victory since last October in Monaco but is also alert to the threat from Mercedes’ closest rivals.

“We are the greatest team – but we have more pressure from our rivals than ever before,” he said, “so it’s important we keep pulling together and refining any weak areas.”

“I’ve proven that I’m just as strong as I’ve ever been and I will be for the rest of the year, so I’m looking forward to the next chapter.”

2016 Canadian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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52 comments on “Red Bull a “very real threat” to Mercedes”

  1. Power should see Merc through in Montreal, but Red Bull’s evolution suggests they are sailing past Ferrari. Perennially aerodynamically and mechanically sound, as guaranteed by Newey, Red Bull’s power unit is coming on a treat. With Ferrari being put to the sword and since power unit gains will still be valid currency in the 2017 season, the remainder of this season should prove more competitive than has been the case in recent seasons.

  2. Mercedes should stop shooting themselves in the feet, those gremlins can prove costly for the both championships, if I was toto I will nominate the number one and the number two driver to make things clear and it is no brainer that their best chance is with Lewis and that their biggest threat is the rivality between their drivers.

    1. Yup they should just snap their fingers and have no more issues, then they should ruin this great rivalry for everyone by turning their back on family member Nico, rather than just continuing to strive for 1-2’s and shutting out the competition that way. Makes sense to me!

    2. i dont think either driver should be given preferential treatment.but merc do need to weed out the gremlins to make sure they can get the maximum from each race weekend.
      anyway i hope redbull can challenge merc for the rest of the season,itll make things more interesting.

      1. Naming a #1 will not make them any faster, quite the contrary. Competition will make them go faster.

    3. Let take a wild guess. You are a hamilton fan?

      I don’t understand why hamilton fans in particular are so aggressive…

      I am a Rosberg fan but would never hope that they make Ros the no.1 driver. Equal status is the way to go.

      1. Chris in Wales
        6th June 2016, 17:13

        So YOU are the Rosberg fan… You must be Keke then.

        1. Hahaha. Nice joke.

    4. @@abdelilah If Mercedes did opt for that, Rosberg would be the number 1 driver.

      1. @mashiat how many championships Rosberg has ? You’ll find out his rank by answering this question.

        1. @abdelilah Lewis does not need that. Just stop it.

      2. Yeah betting rates favour Rosberg for title.

      3. @abdelilah How many points does Hamilton have this season compared to Rosberg?

      4. Too early in the season to nominate a number one and a number two driver.
        Unless RBR have strapped a jet engine to their cars, they will be close but not quite there yet in Canada and Baku.
        I’d wait until we are halfway through the season, ten races gone, and if RBR are still close, then I’d appoint the points leader to be driver #1 and have the other support him.
        Good luck selling that to the drivers though.

    5. Lewis fan alert! Lewis fan alert!!

    6. It’s likely that the team and a whole would perform less if a no 1 was picked but please don’t try and say that Nico has blown Hamilton away this season as if you had any idea about the respective pace of each driver at each weekend you would know nico is far from dominating Hamilton on a driver basis the uncontrollable variables have made the difference not the fixed driver input!

    7. @abdelilah
      Hamilton would actually need to start to beat Rosberg by convincing margins to earn #1 status this season.

        1. @abdelilah
          Emphasis on “this season”

          106 > 82

      1. hahaha. Rosberg would need to actually win a championship to be considered in nearly the same breath as Hamilton.

        1. So give him a chance to win a championship, instead of insisting the team give Hamilton preference.

          F1 deserves better fans, and so does Lewis.

    8. I do not see why you are complaining, Mercedes made a team call in Lewis’ favor last race. Isn’t that what you are asking for?

      I think for the benefit of the sport, there should be two number 1 drivers in each team.

    9. Toto made it clear without their driver rivalry, their dominance would be less profitable for Mercedes. If anything they want more rivalry so they create more media intrest.

  3. God we need a 2 team battle at the front, Mercs being so dom is not doing the sport any favours..l think Max will be added to the wall of champions

    1. Haha that’s a very interesting prediction! Could very well come true

    2. Young Max will bounce back.

  4. I think now we’ve been to the 2 circuits that favoured Aero and are back to more conventional circuits, we’ll see “situation normal” again with the big gap restored between Mercedes and the rest.

    Toto is being Toto and talking down the performance differential when he knows that this weekend they’ll sail away from the rest of the pack.

    The fight behind them will be interesting though with up to 5 teams all in contention.

  5. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    6th June 2016, 14:05

    Oh go away Toto.

    If I had a pound for the amount of times Mercedes, Toto, Rosberg or Hamilton have come out saying about ‘credible’ threats, that their lead and their win isn’t guaranteed…

    Sure, Red Bull are closer. Ferrari will probably catch up from a rough few races. But there’s no way I’m even considering that they are a ‘very real threat’. Sure they’ll be about if Mercedes drop the ball but they’re still odds on to get pole and a safe bet for the win. The championship, regardless of how close Red Bull or Ferrari get, will still be either Hamilton’s or Rosberg’s.

    I grow tired of this constant ‘our winning everything is hard’ talk every race.

    1. I think the other side of the coin is that it is just a sporting and democratic thing to do, not to make oneself sound like the be all and end all. What would they accomplish by just telling everyone they are the best and are unbeatable? What would they gain by arrogantly goading their competition by saying they don’t stand a chance?

      You may think they are just paying lip service, but that’s what sports teams do in their situation, unless they WANT to come across as arrogant and make themselves unpopular.

      1. Agreed.

        It’s also demonstrating an amount of respect for their rivals, which is just being professional.

        Maybe the journos should stop asking the same damn questions every time?

    2. Exactly. This is yet another puff piece putting forward Merc’s talking points, which are all about persuading the powers that be to let them keep winning everything for as long as possible.

      Red Bull aren’t a credible threat to Merc, or even anything approaching one. Red Bull has only just barely managed four podiums this year. Merc has won every single race but one (and chances are high they’d have won that one as well, had their drivers not hit each other). Merc has won 11 out of the last 12 races, 21 out of the last 25 races, and 37 out of the last 44 races.

      We are witnessing an unprecedented period of dominance from one single team, which has won 84% of EVERYTHING under the new engine formula. It’s high time they stopped their tone-deaf pretense of being challenged by rivals, and admitted that under the current engine formula they are now guaranteed to win pretty much everything. To pretend otherwise is pathetic.

      1. Yeah, their talking points are.. 2s behind competitive rivals, 1s behind real threat.

        I guess if they want to beat all time record, they have to win remaining races this year, and there is a real threat they might not win all.

    3. @rocketpanda – I used to feel like that but I’m starting to quite like it now. We have rate the race which determines how good the race was and driver of the weekend which assesses the drivers. We’ve never had anything to determine who the best team was. Well now we do!

      So without further ado – Who do we think Toto is going to say are a threat to Mercedes after Canada? Personally, I think the high speed nature of the track would favour Ferrari but I think Red Bull have hit form and the new Renault engine seems to be a step up. Very early weather forecast suggests possible rain on Sunday so anything could happen! Perhaps Force India could be “a credible threat” to Mercedes in the lead up to Baku!!

  6. I think tire strategy has become an extra factor: it seems that gambling with tire durability can pay of (twice already). Mercedes struggled with its brakes at Canada. If they are not in the lead they might have a hard time overtaking. So Ricciardo get that pole position again.

    I would not say Mercedes has a great advantage at Canada.
    Hamilton makes costly mistakes too when he is under pressure. We have seen that last and this season.
    So Mercedes dominance might be over on most tracks.

    We’ll see how much faster RBR is coming weekend.

    1. Fudge Ahmed (@)
      6th June 2016, 15:42

      I would say Hamilton is more prone to mistakes when he has nothing to lose and has to barge his way through the field. Under pressure his racing has been very good, qualifying not so much.

      1. Fudge Ahmed (@)
        6th June 2016, 15:43

        Actually scratch that qualifying this year has been perfect when the car hasn’t let him down. 2014 he was very prone to mistakes on his banker lap in q3 and levelled that out quite well last year.

    2. under pressure lewis performs at his best.

      1. That’s why he crashed into Rosberg in his hurry to get by him, because being behind Rosberg normally means losing.

        1. Err – not sure what you have been watching for three years?

          Name a single on track race winning overtake Nico has achieved in three and a half years and made stick when all is equal? You won’t find one. From first second or otherwise.

          Now count the numerous made by his team mate. The fact is that before Nico’s little run of three at the end of last year (after he had lost the championship) Lewis had won over twice as many races as his team mate – each and every year!

          Nico has enjoyed a good year with one fast start from second, one drag down the straight from second and lucked into four pretty much uncontested wins this year while his teammate has been mired in the background through no fault of his own. This is hardly grounds for suggesting he is somehow a ‘new man’ and LH loses if he is second on the grid. Particularly given he has beaten Nico each and every time this year when they have raced equally.

          Monaco pretty much proved that.

          1. Citing Monaco detracts from your argument.

  7. Ferrari were within striking distance but haven’t attacked the wheel rim holes loophole for tyre pressures like Mercedes and redbull have, but ferrari will be onboard soon.

    1. kpcart, do you have a link to the source for those claims?

      It’s just the Keith linked to an article the other day where Jock Clear seemed to rubbish that idea, so I was wondering how they suggested that such a mechanism could work.
      Furthermore, wouldn’t Pirelli have raised complaints themselves if that was going on? They now have a real time live feed from sensors on the car that continuously measure tyre parameters, including the pressure, as one of their latest measures to prevent teams from running with underinflated tyres. Surely those tricks would have shown up in Pirelli’s telemetry feed if that were the case?

      1. Check JA – particularly some of the comments or purchase GP+ as some of the interesting ideas ref wheel rims have been asked by Macca and clarified by the FIA including split rims with separate sections for additional pressure containment that release when running. They are banned by the way. In general teams are working with rim makers on coatings and all sorts to increase and decrease heat soak to maximise this area with Ferrari using some seriously advanced coatings to enhance such. I will try to find the link to the manufacturer.

  8. I must say, I do find it odd that M-B are having such consistent powerplant issues.
    Given the LACK of problems among their customer cars, it suggests to me that maybe they are pushing their own units a bit further towards the limit.

    1. Mercedes give teams something called a “phase document” that tells the teams how hard they can run the engines. You can guarantee that Mercedes are running their engines above said limits when they need to.

    2. Well – let’s be blunt. The issues are on one single set of engines belonging to one team member in Merc. His team mates and all others on the grid have been absolutely fine.

      Hugely embarrassing I would imagine.

  9. So what is this real threat they speak off?

    Renault gaines half a second in quali? Did it also gain 1s per lap in a race?

    Red Bull now claim #1 chassis all good. Is their TAG engine also so close to Mercedes?

    I predict RBR will be 3-4 tenths behind them now in regular weekend, and about 2 tenths infront of Ferrari.

    But come Hungary, Singapore and maybe a wet race now and then, RBR can win.

  10. I think it is useful to realise that while Red Bull had to make that error to give Mercedes the win, an alternative world could have seen ROS get his tyres & breaks working, or HAM getting past him sooner and there wouldn’t have been that 13 gap to make up for HAM. Had he still used the same strategy, it would have been tight (depending on that very slow outlap of HAM, I guess). So, yes, Red Bull were competitive in pace, which is good, but they weren’t much faster even in Monaco.

    Still, good to see Ferrari and Red Bull making Mercedes work for it, though they are still the favourites for both titles.

    1. I didn’t get to pay that much attention to what happened behind but, other than pitcrew failures, did undercut work for anyone transitioning onto slicks? If it didn’t / couldn’t then the gap isn’t particularly relevant.
      Mercedes still had a faster package, even in Monaco, just two slower drivers.

  11. I do agree with this.

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