With eight consecutive constructors’ titles and seven out of eight drivers' championships, Mercedes has undoubtedly dominated Formula 1’s turbo hybrid era.
The first two races of the season, however, are telling a whole different story: Red Bull and Ferrari are at the front battling for victories, while Mercedes is struggling to find pace and seems to have taken a step back to the middle of the grid.
“We had the luxury of being right in the middle of those fun games for the last eight years. Talking as a Formula 1 stakeholder, we are benefitting from a great show that is really spectacular to look at,” said Toto Wolff last Sunday after the race in Saudi Arabia when speaking to MotorLAT and other selected media.
“On the other side, it’s extremely painful to be not part of those fun games by quite a chunk of lap time deficit. We are not going to rest until we are back in the mix.”
While Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen were engaged in a tight fight for the lead, Lewis Hamilton was trying to climb his way back into the points after going out in Q1 in Jeddah.
A bit less troubled race for his teammate George Russell, but still no more than a P5 with a significant gap from Perez’s Red Bull in front of him. Quite a bit of work to do for the team to try and fix the deficits of the W13.
“It’s no fun at all, takes an exercise in humility. It’s going to make us stronger even though it’s not fun right now.”
Despite Mercedes being out of the game, at least for now, Wolff admits this new era started out in the best way for Formula 1.
“I think the cars delivered on what Formula 1 hoped for: great overtakings and DRS is powerful but it provides a great show now. I think that was entertaining to watch,” he commented.
“I think they have achieved what they wanted to achieve: spectacular racing, good overtakings, the grid has been shaken up – well, this is less fun for us, but it happened – the midfield is extremely close, so overall I think for the entertainment factor I’m happy about the hype there is around Formula 1.”