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Down, but not out

After authoritatively dominating Formula 1 since 2014, Mercedes found itself in an unfamiliar situation at the start of this season. To begin with, none of its drivers was defending the championship, which was won by a Red Bull driver, Max Verstappen, after a dramatic finish in the previous campaign. That fight with the Austrian team until the last lap of the final date of the previous calendar, did not allow him to concentrate on preparing the car for this year’s rule changes, which had as one of their objectives to cause greater parity in the competition. Mercedes’s late planning had rough consequences for the team.

But after a rocky start, Mercedes has been on the podium in every Grand Prix: Russell was third in Baku, Hamilton in Canada, Great Britain and Austria, while Lewis was second in France and Hungary, and his teammate followed. in that pair of events, after taking the pole in the most recent round. Before going on vacation, the German squad were already 30 points behind Ferrari in the fight to be Red Bull’s successor.

Since the nightmare in Monte Carlo, Mercedes has added 170 points, while Ferrari has added only 135. Ferrari, the once-dominant brand, is still dreaming, aiming for its first victory of the season, which is yet to come for either Hamilton, who has won at least one race in each campaign since his debut, or for Russell, who has yet to achieve such success at this level.


A key aspect of Mercedes’s recovery was the control of the bouncing, known as “porpoising”, in the driver’s seat, which had been the main headache for the squad, with quite explicit complaints from Hamilton and which required the intervention of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) to control it after the Baku GP. That change of rules to try to solve the situation provoked criticism from Red Bull, especially director Christian Horner and Dutch midfielder Verstappen, who stated that this could not happen in the middle of the championship; however, the German company also introduced updates from Silverstone to leave this problem in the past.

The moment before the break was clearly in favour of Mercedes, who, although they are far from the leading team (127 points), have a fantastic chance of finishing second, since Ferrari’s performance has only worsened since they were early favourites to take the season. After a dream start, Ferrari was the victim of its own mistakes, and in the two weekends before the break, neither of its cars took the podium, with a fourth-place finish by Carlos Sainz in Hungary as the best result in the most recent competitions.

For this reason, Mercedes has great possibilities of snatching that second place from the Scudería, thanks to the improvements in the engine and the chassis, a greater understanding of the machine by its drivers, as well as the correct execution in the stops of pits and the strategy in the nine dates yet to be disputed.

Although those last three stops of the European tour of the highest category are not the most optimal for Hamilton (Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy), from then on, the Briton will be in favourable territories for him. In Singapore, he won four times (of 12), and in Japan, he took the title in four of the last six visits (F1 was not in Japan in 2020 and 2021).