Hamilton grateful for points gain at circuit Mercedes expected to be their “Achilles heel”

2021 Qatar Grand Prix

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Mercedes expected the Losail International Circuit would be an “Achilles heel” for them before Formula 1’s first race at the circuit.

But a delighted Lewis Hamilton led the race from start to finish, scoring his second win in a row.

The Mercedes driver pulled away from the field from pole position and was seldom troubled by his pursuers including championship leader Max Verstappen, who finished second.

“It was pretty straightforward,” said Hamilton. “It was pretty lonely at the front.

“Of course, I enjoy those races where you are battling through. But we needed those points today. So I think a real solid job from the team, just with pit stops and with the car.”

The closest Hamilton came to any drama occured when he picked his way past Nicholas Latifi, who was one of several drivers to suffer a puncture during the grand prix.

“I can’t wait to watch the replay of the race to see what happened behind me,” said Hamilton. “I’m not really sure why people’s tyres were going, I’m sure it’s the kerbs.”

Hamilton cut Verstappen’s championship lead to eight points with two races to go. “I’m really, really grateful for these points.

“It’s been a hell of a year, so to be at this point of the year and have back to back wins is a great, great feeling and puts us in good stead for the next two.”

After Hamilton took qualifying yesterday team principal Toto Wolff admitted they expected the circuit would be their weakest of the final three.

“We have deemed this as bit of an Achilles heel,” he said. “The next ones, definitely Saudi, should play to our advantage. But maybe I’ll eat my words in Saudi that we think it’s good and then suddenly it’s going the other way around. And we have seen that this year, because Brazil should have been a Red Bull track.”

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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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43 comments on “Hamilton grateful for points gain at circuit Mercedes expected to be their “Achilles heel””

  1. It’s mostly Merc from here. And fair enough to them, another class-leading car.

    1. @hahostolze
      Pretty brave, given the fact Red Bull had the fastest car for two thirds of the season

        1. Indeed, mayrton.
          Be sure to re watch the past races carefully

      1. RedBull was indeed faster until the half-way point, but Max failed to score big in Baku, Silverstone and Hungary. Those missed opportunities and bad luck will probably cost them both championships.

        1. Failed?! He was taken out of the race by the Mercs!

          1. @mg1982
            Taken out?
            Well, finally he got a sip of his own medicine.
            Well about time.

          2. @mg1982 – Max took himself out by driving too aggressively. Bottas took him out with his superior car pool mechanics. Otherwise I’d say Max has been riding his close calls luck for a while. He’s also been fortunate too this season.

      2. Bahrain RB
        Imola about the same (HAM catching Ver before red flag)
        Portugal Merc
        Spain Merc
        Monaco RB
        Baku RB (but Max retired so shouldn’t really count)
        France RB
        Styria RB
        Austria RB
        GB about the same
        Hungary Merc
        Belgium not counted
        Zandvoort RB
        Monza Merc
        Russia Merc
        Turkey Merc
        Cota RB
        Mex RB
        Brazil Merc
        Qatar Merc

        8-8 to Merc/RB not including mechanical issues (i.e. Baku). If not 9-8 to RB, which is still pretty much equal between the two teams.

        1. France was Merc, Gb was Merc, Belgium was Merc(lewis should have taken pole-win),Zandvoort about the same and maybe COTA too

          1. Verstappen groupies alert, lol!

        2. Pretty much agree with that, the difference really has been RB has been clearly quicker a few times, Austria x 2, Zandvoort for example while Mercedes haven’t really had that, possibly Brazil but that was more about DRS.

          There’s also been a fair few races where Mercedes have been a bit quicker on one tyre but RB the other, France, USA etc, both those times RB strategy/circumstances favoured RB.

          Certainly you can say neither team has been “dominant” this year.

        3. GB and Imola equal? No way. Clearly RB.
          Belgium not counted? Why so? Verstappen had the fastest car and was gifted a win.
          Monza was pro Mercedes, but the dutch brat drove over Hamilton.
          Turkey was pro Mercedes, but Hamilton took a penalty.
          Do your math better.

          1. You don’t like Max but you keep saying he will win more races than Lewis this year.

        4. I can get behind that but 2 points.

          When Mercedes was faster it was emphatically faster and by that, I mean being able to ignore the undercut from behind. Something that Red Bull was unable to do in some races where it was faster like Cota (Mercedes called it winnable).

          Verstappen had benefitted from less luck/controversy thrown his way and that even you include Belgium.

          A +7 in Silverstone went -26 (34 point swing) etc. And a lot of points were lost from puncture and bowling in Hungary. Hamilton was comparatively way luckier overall.

      3. Agreed. A bit of luck has played into Mercedes hands so far for Lewis to be this close to Max at this point. The RedBull has squandered some races they should have won – Bahrain, Turkey, Monza, Baku, Silverstone and now Mercedes has the upper hand in the last two tracks.

    2. … and driver … agree!

      1. Not sure. Given how the season has unfolded it seems pretty clear Max is ahead of Lewis now. More wins, more composure, arguably in a slower car too. Well deserved overall for Mercedes for the 9th year in a row. That is quite an achievement. Lewis owes them the world and they owe Lewis as well for some incredible wins.

        1. The slower car bit is very arguable, for the start of the year they were clearly ahead esp. in Vertappen’s hands, and recall that there’s a reason he was so far ahead leading into Brazil too. Yes at the moment HAM’s car looks faster, but it can easily turn.

          1. @bosyber
            So far, I have it this way :

            Mercedes was faster in Portimao, Spain, Silverstone, Hungaroring, Monza, Sochi, Istanbul, Interlagos, Qatar. and probably in Imola and Spa in normal conditions. RBR were faster in Bahrain, Monaco, Baku, France, Styrian GP, Austria, Dutch GP, USA, Mexico.

            Mercedes did have difficulties to get the car work in its sweet spot due to the floor rule changes but that didn’t make it a slow car at all. All that talk about Mercedes being the underdog is Toto’s narrative unfortunately blown out of proportion by some biased British media. He always wants his rivals to feel safe and extract the maximum from his team.

            They sorted that out with the Silverstone upgrade and the car is now faster than RBR even in RBR tracks. Mercedes will likely be dominant in Saudi Arabia and in Abu Dhabi too. So it is really depending on the circuit layout, though the number of circuits that adapt to the RBR car on the 2021 F1 calendar are less than the ones that emphasizes the W12 strengths.

            We must not forget that the W12 is slightly a modified version of the W11 (no DAS, no party mode and a modified floor) which is one of the most dominant cars in history. I mean if we have 20 circuits like Baku or Monaco then RBR would have won the championship before the summer break but it is not like that. So it’s safe for me to say that Mercedes did have the better car over the season.

          2. I agree. The turning point was Mercedes getting the Pirelli’s they wanted. It shifted the balance towards them. Still don’t understand how this is competition-wise possible in-season, but then again FIA is not exactly known for their clear rule book.

    3. Only if you include this race the Mercedes is faster overall so far. Until now it was pretty neck and neck. I think it has more to do about the luck of the drivers not evened out during the season. We don’t have enough races left for it also.

    4. Who knows whether Max would have been able to do more had he started right behind (or in front) of Hamilton

  2. With this new engine with the latest “reliability” updates, there is no track in the rest of the calendar that Mercedes in his hands that will not dominate.

    1. Mercedes didnt use the new engine from Brazil for this race. They used the engine they took in Turkey. They are saving the new Brazil engine for the last 2 races.

      1. Thx didn’t knew that.

  3. Mercedes labelled all circuits their Achilles heel this year, so didn’t expect any different here ;-)

  4. “We expected this track to be an Achillies heel”

    Who? Who said that? Nobody has said that. Everyone thought Mercedes would be strong here.

    1. @rocketpanda
      If you read carefully, he said “we”.
      They at Mercedes was expecting so.
      Nobody asks you.

      1. @liko41
        Nobody asked you too :)

        1. @tifoso1989
          Oh, ferraristi, are you still around spitting on Hamilton?
          Sorry for you, he rewrite F1 history NOT wearing your color, lol!
          Deal with it.

    2. I see you’re pretty on the edge all the time when it comes for Lewis or Mercs. May be taking a break from F1 would help? Mental health trumps F1 or any sport you know.

  5. This track suited the RedBulls, once again they could afford to run with less downforce to get that extra strightline speed, even so ….

    1. Two unknown variables. Hamilton didn´t really need to push at any stage & Verstappen had some damage to the front wing.

      On balance, I can´t guess whether these two balanced out each other and the final gap (around 10 seconds) was representative, but after yesterday I expected Mercedes to be more secure than this. Plus Hamilton had initial advantage over (5 sec gap) when Verstappen swiftly put aside all other cars. It is still all open, Mercedes has one another ace in their sleeve – the newer engine that Hamilton used only in Brasil.

    2. What are you talking about?!?! Did you watch the Quali and saw that the best RBR was almost half a second behind HAM??

  6. Lots of talk about how merc and Hamilton have the championship sewn up, however this misses some crucial facts; an unlucky DNF for Hamilton in Saudi Arabia (a deflating tyre, a turn 1 collision, a wonky engine part) and Verstappen could be coming away as champion, even with a 2nd place finish. The same can’t be said in reverse.

    Even if they collide again and take each other out in Saudi Arabia, an 8 point deficit at the final round means even a win + fastest lap isn’t enough for Hamilton if Verstappen comes home in 2nd.

    However slender, a points lead coming into the final two rounds still puts Verstappen in a very strong position.

    1. Lewis just doesn’t DNF. His last two technical DNF’s were Austria 2018 (fuel system) and Malaysia 2016 (engine). Now they can even run the engine balls out and nothing happens to it.

    2. lexusreliability?
      21st November 2021, 22:04

      @moshwan

      I am not sure. A DNF for Max and even a 2nd place for Lewis puts him in a strong position for Yas Marina. Truth is 8 points with 50 points up for grabs is not that great an advantage. Also, Bottas might be able to string together a good weekend which could make Max’s life more difficult although I am not holding mky breath on that one.

      1. lexusreliability?
        21st November 2021, 22:06

        *Make that 52 points including FL

  7. Well they’ve managed to get a win at their Achilles heel. Now they just have to get another win at their Achilles heel and wrap that championship up with a win at their Achilles heel.

  8. Gotta say guys, even if Mercedes cruise to this win, they still did hang in there when they were on the back foot. Well deserved.

    1. @DonSmee have to agree with u there. Redbulls and verst should have been way more ahead in both championships. Redbulls problems r 2 fold: 1. They build a car to suite 1 driver. 2. They focus totally on 1 driver. Which by the way is the same problem lol. Mercedes build a fast car. They focus on the 1 leading the championship but dont hang the other out to dry.

  9. Mercedes is such a weak car, it can barely beat a Haas if you believe Toto and Hamilton the past 7 years…

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