Mercedes expect Baku and Monaco will prove the “worst” tracks for their car

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In the round-up: Mercedes believe the last two races are like to prove the low-point for their season.

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In brief

Wolff hopeful ahead of return to Europe

After his team scored just seven points in the last two races, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said he expects the tracks will prove the least competitive venues for their W12.

“We knew that these two race tracks are probably the worst for us,” said Wolff. “I hope I’m right with that assessment.”

Following two races at street circuits featuring slow corners where the W12 did not thrive, Wolff hopes the move to more typical European road courses will play into their hands.

“Let’s see how the European races go now,” he said. “But clearly, these two were absolutely below the standards that we set ourselves and the expectations that we set ourselves.”

Ericsson says he deserved change of luck

Ericsson took his first IndyCar win yesterday
Marcus Ericsson praised Will Power after his rival’s late-race misfortune handed Ericsson his first IndyCar win.

Power, who led much of the second half of the race, was unable to participate in a late restart when his car refused to start during a red flag period.

“For Will, I fell really bad for him, the way it ended for him,” said Ericsson. “He did a tremendous job today. But it was my day today and it was about time.”

Ericsson, who had been running second, took the lead of the race when Power’s car was pushed to the side as the rest of the field left the pits to restart the race. “I thought that for once the luck had come on my side,” he said. “I think we deserved that.”

As well as taking his first win in IndyCar, Ericsson ended an eight-year win drought in motorsport. “It’s been such a long time for me and it’s been tough,” he said. “I don’t even remember, I was a kid when I won last time. I feel so good.”

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Comment of the day

Fernando Alonso may be enjoying his return, but will he be next year if Alpine aren’t able to compete for wins?

Very nice to hear the enjoyment is back. It’s like Raikkonen realising there is no better fun to be had anywhere so why not continue. Even enjoying the team camaraderie as well.

Let’s see if the ‘hate of losing’ will return if the car is not to expectations next year. Although I would dearly like to see that it is.

One of the biggest wastes in F1 is Alonso in a midfield car. Yes he was demanding and even toxic, but for do the teams want points, wins or championships or a nice atmosphere at work? I just don’t understand it.

I bet Red Bull is secretly regretting playing hardball with him. A properly embedded Alonso from 2015 later paired with Verstappen would be a formidable pairing. Might even have made life difficult for Mercedes last years. Who cares if there’s rivalry and politics.

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36 comments on “Mercedes expect Baku and Monaco will prove the “worst” tracks for their car”

  1. JohnnyRye (@)
    13th June 2021, 5:21

    The Mag and Grosjean convo was cool to see!

  2. I think Mercedes are “missing” DAS. They may not be explicitly vocal about it, but I think that the DAS would have made their situation better at Baku and Monaco. Getting the tyres in the operating window appears to be more important than having fast car that has tyre warm up problems. But they never had tyre problems since 2019, when they had a car that was insane in slow speed corners.

    It is one reason why I wish the FIA could be more open in terms of tyre regulations, like allowing the teams to choose whatever compounds they like without the quantity limits, but of course limited to the total tyre allocation. If a team wants to have all 10 sets of Hard tyres for the weekend, then allow it. Scrapping the mandatory pit stop rule would also be great, if a team wants to do an entire race on Medium tyres without a stop, then allow it. The amount of strategies opening up could be enormous.

    1. @krichelle Better to leave the compound quantities for Pirelli as has been the case since COVID came because easier for them logistically. I agree with you on scrapping the mandatory pit stop, though. Additionally, I’d get rid of the Q2 rule that limits strategic options for the top ten.

    2. I’d actually prefer they double the number of pit stops.
      And requiring them to use multiple compounds means that everyone has to use a tyre they prefer and a tyre that they don’t.

    3. Missing part of their floor is affecting them more than DAS ever did.

  3. The Mercedes was fine in Monaco. Qualified 3rd and then easily hang behind the leader until the pitstop failure. Hamilton was terrible that weekend.
    In Baku, the Red Bull cars had an advantage, but it wasn’t enough not to be threatened by Mercedes who were on their tail all race and even took the lead into turn 1 until Hamilton had his moment on the brakes. Bottas was terrible that weekend.

    1. Talk of Mercedes having a car ill suited to these tracks is a definitely a rather transparent deflection from the team’s (including drivers) myriad of errors in both races.

    2. In any case yes, hamilton was a threat for perez but not for verstappen realistically.

  4. I enjoyed the former Haas duo’s conversation.

    COTD: I agree.

  5. Grosjean & Magnussen – cool video, but produced by Michelin – lovely subtle comment by K-mag about tyres never degrading and Grosjean coming in “yes, of course, they’re Michelin”.
    I wonder if that was planted.
    Looked genuine tho.

  6. Re Mercedes: Expect became expected. There’s probably more tracks that won’t suit their car…
    Re Ericsson: First win! What a brilliant day for him.
    Re Ricciardo tweet: No lie, I watched dealing with bullies movie scenes shortly after reading this tweet…
    Re RaceFans tweet: Nice Pride Month livery.
    Re Romain and Kevin: And then Kevin won it. Who says that he doesn’t belong here, huh? You’re proven totally wrong. Totally.

  7. Re COTD. RedBull is not about drivers like Alonso. I am sure he was only considered a few seconds maximum, just because he is around. It doesnt fit their image and frankly, we’ve seen a 7 times WDC champion return which didnt turn out that well either. Not sure whether Alonso can deliver still.

    1. He is in the right spot at Renault to possibly do a Button if Renault finds something that makes their car unbeatable though. For him it doesnt make sense to go anywhere where you’d already have a title candidate.

      1. RandomMallard (@)
        13th June 2021, 10:37

        To be fair I personally would expect Alonso to do a Barrichello in that situation, with Ocon taking the title instead. But that is from the perspective of a young fan who has only known moaning Alonso with a Honda or Renault PU

        1. Well, then you missed a lot, alonso was great and even when he complained about the honda PU he was delivering top performances for the car he had.

    2. They looked at him after his Ferrari stint when was stunning and dragging the red car to where it shouldn’t be. He went to McLaren and did the same, annihilated his team mates. At the top of his game. But he wasn’t humble enough with Marko who anyway was too invested in his young driver program (even admitted by Horner).

      Now they’ve finally learned they need performers and not humble youngsters and gone for Perez, 31, but too little too late.

  8. We knew that these two race tracks are probably the worst for us…I hope I’m right with that assessment.

    I guess one has to expect some sort of commiserations from Mercedes when mistakes took away certain podium places. Errors were the reason certain podium places were given to others. Mercedes could have walked away from these two weekends with a good points haul, instead they walked away with just a handful of points.

    1. Verstappen was on track to get consecutive victories. The authors on this site pointed to Red Bull having a better chance at the last two venues not only because they are street courses, but also because Pirelli opted for softer compounds. Hamilton finds himself only four points behind after two difficult weekends. Red Bull definitely outscored Mercedes, but they didn’t maximise their opportunities either.

      1. CC I disagree. RBR did maximize their opportunities where it was in their control to do so. Mercedes did not.

        At Monaco Max might have had pole if not for CL’s crash. He won anyway, SP fourth which is great for someone still finding his way and progressing towards maximizing the car and team as the newbie there. Pretty much everything they could do in their control. Mercedes seemed lost and even though VB was also affected by CL’s crash in quali, through only their own lapses they had a poor Sunday.

        Of course in Baku Max crashed through no fault of his own, SP won, LH took himself out, and VB was nowhere.

        Max/RBR going from being behind in both Championships to being ahead over the last two races, having not put a foot wrong and doing everything right that was in their control, means they did indeed maximize their opportunities whereas it was Mercedes that squandered their’s all on their own.

        Max/RBR were unlucky at Baku, and LH lucked out and should have easily overhauled Max in the WDC, but his error squandered that. So as it sits, who do you think is feeling burned after the last two races in spite of you downplaying it because of ‘only four points?’ Max/RBR know they did everything right that was under their control. Mercedes is having meetings and needing to sort themselves after two embarrassing races.

        1. If you think about it, long term it is better for the Championship that it ended up as it ended up. Why? There are several factors to this.

          1) Checo.

          RBR needs Checo up there. And now, Checo is finally comfortable in a car and on top of that, he got huge confidence boost which will help tremendously in terms of WDC and WCC even more (long term) than if Max won in Baku.

          He also now knows that he can win races for RBR, but is very aware that Max is no.1 and Max winning is top priority and I have a feeling that he will not have a single issue with this. He does what is best for the team, but he is no pushover like Bottas. Perfect balance.

          2) Lewis.

          If Lewis ended up 2nd, or even 1st, it would be bad, even if Max got that 12 point lead.

          But now, Lewis’s confidence took another big hit, 2 weekends in a row. He is frustrated and angry on himself.

          Lewis actually acts like a Rich kid. Rich Kid, who got everything he pointed his finger at and now, he can’t do that and it frustrates him.

          That is the cost of winning “easy championships” (aside from 2014 and 2016… Vettel was really never a real threat)

          3) Off the track wars.

          Right now, Mercedes is losing not only on the track but off the track too.

          Bottas rebelling and not performing, Toto bashing him for pit stop and then taking it back after getting ton of hate, Toto making overly aggressive comments on Christian Horner, RBR taking their employees….

          Sometimes it is actually better to win nothing than getting used to wining everything and then losing that.

  9. Given the emotional state Mercedes has been in these past 2 races, I reckon “hoping” is more accurate than “expecting”.

    Coz they acted desperately, all of a sudden these noble words of “no blame culture” went out of the window and they started blaming each other.

  10. Yes he was demanding and even toxic, but for do the teams want points, wins or championships or a nice atmosphere at work? I just don’t understand it.

    This shouldn’t even be a question in this day and age. There is no place for toxicity at the workplace.

    1. AllTheCoolNamesWereTaken
      13th June 2021, 11:30

      There is no place for toxicity at the workplace.

      In a scenario where all else is equal or close to equal, I agree with you – as I imagine that everyone would. In other words, if you have two candidates for a job – both equally (or close to equally) capable of doing the job, but one of whom is likeable and the other not – you would obviously go with the candidate who, in addition to being competent, is also pleasant to be around.

      However, all else isn’t always equal or close to it. People with Alonso’s skill set are few and far between. This is a factor, and it would be naïve to pretend it’s not. Quite frankly, if I were team principal and I had to choose between signing Fernando Alonso or Jolyon Palmer (an extreme example, but one which illustrates my point), it would be an incredibly easy choice for me – and I wouldn’t go with Palmer.

      1. Embassy Hill
        13th June 2021, 12:27

        Plus it’s only the ones that haven’t worked with him that say he is toxic…

        The list is endless of team members or drivers who have worked with him or been beaten by him within the same team (so have reason to be bitter, potentially) and none of them say he is toxic.

        I suspect those that didn’t like him just couldn’t keep up with his relentless work rate and demands. And those people shouldn’t be in F1 anyway. I refer again to Mansell, Prost, Senna, Piquet, Graham Hill, Lauda etc all incredibly demanding but anyone who would rather someone nice fluffy and fun instead of one of that lot is an utter fool.

    2. @skipgamer The point was obviously that this wasn’t work. It’s cutthroat sport. Do you want a team with Alonso or Verstappen to go up against the might Mercedes, or do you look at a Kvyat or a lovely Albon that will be servile and not throw a fuss? The answer is given.

  11. @balue I think FA is more stoked about next year and the prospect of a more driver vs driver F1.

    I think it is rhetoric to claim FA is toxic and I think you should check your facts about Red Bull ‘playing hardball’ with FA. It would seem RBR offered him a seat only once back in 07, but FA claims they have offered him a seat on several occasions but that he rejected them due to lack of car performance. The latest talk is that he offered up his services to RBR for 2020 or 2021 but that Honda was having none of that due to his criticism of them when he was at Mac.

    As to your comment about ‘who cares if there’s rivalry and politics’…while in a perfect world of course we the fans would be the winners if teams would forgo worries of rivalries and politics, but we know the reality is they do. See Mercedes for the latest example. You sound naive saying that.

    1. @robbie It’s in one of the podcasts with Horner (Beyond the Grid?) where he explains how they had talks with Alonso after Ferrari, but found his demands too much. The attitude was probably that he needed them more than they needed him and thought that he should be the one being humble and grateful, but look how they lost out. Out at sea with a whole bunch of hopefuls and still struggling to get a 2 car team and thereby a championship challenge going. They could have had him but blew it.

      You talk about being naive, and then you have Mercedes team philosophy as a reference? It’s really a disgrace with a wingman setup like Ferrari before. Even worse as they don’t need it to win and just their upstairs, downstairs attitude. Mercedes is a clear outlier here.

      1. @balue And again I don’t see where this is playing hardball with FA. If his demands were too much so be it, that’s on FA not CH or HM. I googled it and FA himself said he rejected RBR because of lack of car performance, so again, that’s not RBR playing hardball. You surmising about their attitude is simply speculation. Amd of true I don’t disagree that FA needed them more than they needed FA, when they have Max.

        Don’t get me wrong I prefer 2 roosters on a team and I only gave Mercedes as one example and a current one of taking the easier route post-Nico. There have been many many examples in the past and it has always bothered me when top teams take the easy route for themselves in terms of choosing not to manage two top drivers to the detriment of the hundreds of millions of viewers. Of course I get the business side of that. The ease of not robbing points from the go-to driver. The ease of the lesser politics and psychological war.

        Anyway, this just to say ‘they could have had him and blew it’ is way oversimplifying it and it seems to me moreso that from his own words he rejected them, and then more recently Honda rejected him.

  12. MB failed to maximise in both Monaco and Baku, France though should reveal an actual moment of thruth. If RB can give MB a hard time on Paul Ricard, then max wil have a serious chance to fight for the title this year.

  13. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    13th June 2021, 16:29

    If Monaco and Baku were the ‘two worst’ tracks for Mercedes and they were still in contention for a podium – if not a win – in both, with two seperate drivers in each until misfortune alone took them out of contention, I think they’re going to be absolutely fine for the rest of the season and Red Bull will regret not taking more points off them when they had the chance.

    I mean the absolute ridiculousness of talking about how ‘awful’ they did when they were in contention for a podium or a win in both on merit with both Bottas and Hamilton? Even if Red Bull were slightly faster they weren’t sufficiently fast enough to conclusively and emphatically defeat a severely underperforming Mercedes? Yikes.

    1. Rodric Ewulf
      13th June 2021, 17:49

      Mercedes, specially Wolff/Hamilton, always have been melodramatic about their occasional “struggling” performances despite never being too far off having the fastest car, typical of a team not at all used to be consistently challenged. They hyped Ferrari up in 2017 and 2018 as much as they could, and every season they have an established tradition of sandbagging until their rivals gradually are taken out of contention for the WDC and WCC or simply implode themselves, like Ferrari ’18.

      1. Rodric Ewulf
        13th June 2021, 18:01

        Funny thing is, Lewis is sharp to point it out they have a struggling car and “underperformed as a team” but is reluctant until the last bit to address his own off-weekends in terms of performance, or what has been a little more common recently, his race ending mistakes. He is usually a very fast driver but he should be more willingly to admit when he just messed it up, without making so many excuses or even point his finger to Max instead.

    2. @rocketpanda Hmm, which is it? Were they ‘in contention’ but had misfortune, or were they ‘severely underperforming?’ You’ve said both. If they were severely underperforming then I don’t think you can say ‘yikes’ about RBR’s rest of the season, for this is definitely not the usual domination from Mercedes going on. If it was just misfortune, then you have to include the misfortune Max had in Baku as well.

      I have said all along I’m taking it one race at a time and not assuming Max/RBR are the new benchmark, and after 7 years of LH/Merc being that, I fully expect them to have great races if not dominant ones yet this season. But let’s not make it sound like RBR are somehow dropping the ball here, for they are the ones with the monumental task at hand of defeating the dynasty. And they have made the fewer mistakes. And they don’t have the luxury of an utterly dominant car like LH has enjoyed. As you allude to the best Max can hope for is a car that is slightly faster at times, knowing LH is going to also have a car that is slightly faster at times. So far it’s not Max/RBR dropping the ball.

      1. Adam (@rocketpanda)
        13th June 2021, 19:36

        Literally both – they were underperforming but they were still in contention, which shows how strong the car is and how stronger they will be when they get everything working right. Which, inevitably, they will.

        Red Bull aren’t the benchmark. Arguably at the moment neither is Mercedes, but given the last few years I’ll still be shocked if they don’t take the title. I say yikes about Red Bull’s future hope because I think they’re going to miss the lost points in Baku from the tyre failure more than Mercedes will – as I fully expect Merc to get ontop of this car, and as said if these were its worst tracks and they were still capable of nearly winning when they get everything lined up I worry Red Bull will lose touch with them.

        1. @rocketpanda For me as I see it the fact that you would be shocked if they didn’t take the title is exactly why I say they are the benchmark. They are the defending Champs and with such a dynasty in place that is why you are so confident they will get it together and take over the season. It is why I won’t be surprised either, just disappointed. But realistically if LH/Mercedes wins again, it’s no real surprise but if Max/RBR wins they will have been the ones that climbed the mountain and toppled the giant. And as I say, without a dominant car, ‘just’ a competitive one.

          So I hear you about RBR missing the points from from Baku more, but I just don’t see it in a ‘regret’ kind of way, or anything they’ll kick themselves over, and perhaps that’s not how you mean it. The tire blowout was not on them, and they’ll recall how LH squandered it, and for now all they can do is build on their great form over the last two races and take it one at a time.

          Who knows if Merc has made their last mistake and had their last ‘bad-for-them’ track, so all RBR can do is their level best and hope that means applying pressure that forces LH/Mercedes into more mistakes, the type of which they haven’t exactly been known for very much in their dynasty until this year. Is that telling of something? Or are you right and all RBR have done is poke the bear.

          One race at a time.

  14. F1MadFan1970 (@)
    13th June 2021, 23:38

    France is a fast track and is good for Hamilton.

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