After a near-perfect start to the 2021 F1 season, we have finally witnessed a chink in the armor of the mighty Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team. After what has been a very lackluster Monaco Grand Prix headed by mechanical issues and technical errors for the team, especially compared to their usual high standards of performance.
Saturday saw a frustrating day for the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team at an eventful Saturday in Monaco. Valtteri Bottas was forced to settle for P3 after a red flag caused by pole-sitter Charles LeClerc curtailed his final qualifying lap and brought Q3 to a premature end. Lewis Hamilton qualified in P7 on a difficult day with his car lacking grip throughout the session.
With much thanks to the Mercedes Media Team, let’s check out the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team and what they had to say about the events that transpired!
Valtteri Bottas Qualifying Thoughts
“On Thursday and even in practice this morning, I didn’t have the greatest feeling in the car – we were still struggling with the tyre warm-up and mechanically, the car just isn’t made for tracks like this. But I think we maximised everything set-up wise for Quali, we made some changes and I felt comfortable. As qualifying progressed, I saw that we had a chance for pole position so it’s a shame I never got to finish the last run – I guess we’ll never find out if it was enough but it was a good lap up until the red flag, I was a tenth or two up.
It is great to see many teams out there competing at the front, it’s exciting and we are all pushing so much on the track, trying to make every small gain we can. I am sure tomorrow will be a tight battle.”
Lewis Hamilton Qualifying Thoughts
” The car didn’t feel too bad on Thursday but we made some changes and it felt terrible today, so we’ll have to go back to the drawing board. From my point of view, I just had such a lack of grip out there, which then leads you to try to overdrive and start pushing to get more from it but to no end – it just doesn’t improve. So overall, a difficult day. Obviously Valtteri was able to get something out of the car but we have definitely had some problems today.
It’s almost impossible to overtake here and from where we are, that’s pretty much the case when everyone is running at the same speed. Saturday really is the day. I guess the minimum would be, hopefully, seventh and then we have got to try and somehow see if we can move forwards.”
Toto Wolff Qualifying Thoughts
” It was not a good day for us overall and we need to find out why we couldn’t get Lewis’ car in a happier place. It was a shame for Valtteri – he was two and a half tenths up on his final lap and had a great chance for pole but crashes happen here in Q3, it’s when the drivers are pushing the most.
For the whole day we struggled to generate grip with Lewis’ car and it cost him confidence in practice and that carried over into qualifying; we’ll work hard to understand why. With Valtteri’s car, he was happier in the morning session, could build confidence and his car seemed to be in a better window. Tomorrow will be a tight race, we need to stay patient and look for any opportunities to move forward.”
Sunday concluded a weekend of harsh lessons for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team in Monaco.
Hamilton finished in his starting position of P7 after he dropped three places when a failed undercut left him vulnerable to an overcut from the cars behind, however he did manage to salvage a potentially important extra point with the fastest lap of the race.
Bottas was forced to retire when a wheel nut issue prevented his front-right tyre from being changed during a pit-stop on lap 29 of the race.
The entire grid had previously gained one place after a driveshaft issue prevented pole-sitter Charles Leclerc from starting the race.
Lewis Hamilton Race Thoughts
“Congratulations to Max and his team, they did a better job today. For our team, it’s through our losses and our mistakes that we always grow stronger. This has definitely been a poor weekend overall in terms of our performance, but this team has shown time and time again, how we come back fighting.
There’s no finger pointing, we win and we lose together – we just need to find our feet and stay cool, we have 18 races left and there’s a long way to go in this fight.
We’ll be working hard because we need to make sure this doesn’t happen again. There’s no reason why we should be performing like this on any weekend with all the experience we have together as a team. We’ll have some good discussions internally, it’s painful to learn these lessons but we’ve done it many times before.”
Valtteri Bottas Race Thoughts
” Sitting in the car at the pit stop, I knew it was a slow one and I was calculating Sainz getting past, then Norris, and when it got to 30 seconds, I couldn’t believe it.
It’s obviously hugely disappointing and we need to learn so it never happens again. It was bad luck from my side and as a team, it will be a priority for us to improve our pit stops moving forward. Our pit stops haven’t been our strongest point this year there’s no one to blame, as a team we just need to be better.
Between lap 15 and 20, it was a good margin between Max and I but when Max started to lift his pace, I noticed my front left started to give up more than his and I lost some ground. There was a gap when I stopped and perhaps it would have been difficult to fight for the win, even though we would have fought hard, but second place should have been possible today.
We’ll have a meeting to go through the race in detail on Tuesday, to understand what I could do better and what we can do better, then we’ll move on and get ready for Baku.”
Toto Wolff Race Thoughts
” Days like today are the ones we learn the most but that doesn’t stop the experience from feeling awful. We had a pretty terrible race day on Sunday, we had a lot of degradation with Valtteri, while still being in the hunt for the podium.
Then we machined a wheel nut at the stop, which has never happened to that extent before, and he was forced to retire.
With Lewis, we just didn’t have the pace in the car – it’s as simple as that. The undercut looked like the only feasible way of clearing Gasly and there wasn’t any mistake, the outlap was good, the pit stop was OK but it just wasn’t enough.
You have to take a weekend like this on the chin – today we lost a few points but this is a long championship, it is going to swing back and forth and in the end we will see in Abu Dhabi who has their nose ahead. We will regroup and look back, as much as it hurts, to learn the lessons and come back stronger.”
Andrew Shovlin Race Thoughts
” A really difficult day for the team and lots of areas that we need to look at but we’ll come away from here and analyse everything objectively. Retiring a car with an issue at a pitstop is clearly not good enough, the nut was damaged to the point where it was never going to come off so we had no option but to park the car. However, our pace wasn’t good enough to challenge Max as we were losing grip towards the end of the stint on soft and couldn’t keep up.”
Following today’s Monago GP we have a new leader of the championship. Max Verstappen (105 points) leads the Drivers’ Championship by 4 points from Hamilton (101) with Lando Norris in P3 (56) and Bottas (47) in P4.Red Bull (149 points) lead the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team (148 points) by 1 point in the Constructors’ Championship.
This is promising to be the most exciting season in recent memory and it’s no surprise the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team are at the head of it!