Mercedes enters the 2021 season, deservedly at the top of the tree. However, this could be the year that things might change.
Lewis Hamilton won his seventh World Driver Championships, unfortunately for the watching fans it was clear quickly in the season that (both) Championships were between the Mercedes drivers.
Redbull were better than the rest but not close to the Mercedes cars. Hamilton clinched his seventh title at the Turkish GP.
The difficulty about writing about Mercedes Formula 1 2021 season is that it was almost perfect. Not much really happened that hinted that they would not win the championships.
The car was reliable, and the drivers did pretty much what was expected of them.
The curious case of Hamilton’s Contract.
It was well known coming into the 2020 season that Lewis Hamilton’s contract finished at the end of the season.
I do not think a race weekend did not go by without it being mentioned. Mercedes and Hamilton were also playing it coy, with the usual cliches, however when the chequered flag fell on the season in Abu Dhabi, a contract was not signed, and the most successful Formula 1 driver of the modern era was heading to the winter break out of contract.
ITS NOT NORMAL
Contrary to what was mentioned by Toto Wolff (Mercedes Team Principle) and Lewis Hamilton. It was not a normal situation.
Granted, 2020 was not a normal season with the season starting in June and finishing in December after 17 races. There really was a limited amount of time to get things sorted. Add into the mix Lewis Hamilton’s positive Covid test, that led to him missing out on the Sakhir GP, you could be forgiven thinking that it was just a matter of getting the time to negotiate.
Only for a Year?
Mercedes and Lewis finally announced on the 8th of Feb the agreement on a new contract, the internet exploded, but wait, its only for one year?
With so much hearsay surrounding Hamilton’s contract demands, including Driver veto’s, Daimler refusing to agree to pay what Hamilton demanded no one saw a one-year deal coming, in fact Lewis has never signed a one-year deal in his career in Formula 1.
What was the reason for this? Well, the usual sports cliches were dished out by those involved, Toto Wolfe stating that it was decided to get a one-year deal done as it was getting close to pre-season. With them agreeing to meet during the 2021 season to sort out the future.
Mercedes and Hamilton have not released details of the 2021 contract; however, we can hazard a guess that it will be somewhere in the region of £40million. (his previous contract was for £30million and £10million in bonuses)
One of the things about Lewis Hamilton, is that he needs to feel secure in his team, if he is unsettled, he is not fast.
Driving with only a one-year deal is something that is alien to him, Bottas on the other hand has never had anything than a 1-year deal, while at Mercedes.
Lewis is coming to the twilight of his career, his is sitting on 7-World Titles, broken more Formula 1 records than any other driver, he must be thinking about life away from Formula 1, he is a successful musician, has a clothing collection in partnership with Tommy Hilfiger and has recently launched the Hamilton Commission, its goal to help children of minority backgrounds get access to motorsport and STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
He has also shown his support to social issues such as the Black Lives Matter movement. Lewis has a lot of pieces of his life in different areas of society, some of these pursuits are new, some (like music and fashion) have been around for several years.
It would stand to reason that Lewis could be looking to move away from the World of Formula 1, devoting his time to other projects that he is passionate about. In all fairness what does he have to prove in Formula 1, love or hate him, he has been a powerhouse behind the wheel, and more than deserving of all his titles he has won.
Valtteri Bottas has the most difficult job in Formula 1, being the teammate of one of the greatest Formula 1 drivers of this generation. He still needs to perform much better and consistently challenge his teammate in 2021.
Bottas is a good driver, plenty of teams would love him driving their cars. Is he good enough to drive in the car that is arguable the best car on the grid?
My controversial opinion is NO.
Let me explain, a successful team needs two good and competitive drivers (just ask Redbull), the unique aspect of the Formula 1 World Championship is the constructors Championship. No other sport series has this system, of both individual and team championships running together.
Drivers are racing for themselves, however they must be mindful of the team championship. Winning a constructor championship brings prestige to the team, it also brings in the money, one of the main reasons for any team to be involved in formula 1.
Valtteri Bottas, is a wingman for Lewis Hamilton, he will be sacrificed to help Hamilton to win the Drivers’ Championship, it might seem unfair to some, however this is not solely on Hamilton or the team. Bottas, will have to take some responsibility for the “number 2” comparison. He needs to put himself in the position where he cannot be demoted, he needs to be consistent.
I understand that Valtteri is just an employee of the Mercedes team and that he should do what he is told by them however, he must take away that option, he needs to be closer to Hamilton in all aspects of the race weekend.
He needs to force the question at Mercedes. Maybe even a Multi-21 scenario, what does he have to lose?
Hey who ordered the pack of AMG stickers?
Mercedes launched the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 W12 e-performance Formula 1 car on the 2nd of March.
The car remained black with INEOS and Petronas sponsorship added to the mix, INEOS have increased their branding on the car, mostly due to them becoming equal partner in the team alongside Toto Wolfe and Daimler (Mercedes parent company).
One of the biggest surprises of the livery, was at the rear, with the iconic stars gone, they have been replaced by a group of AMG stickers that are fading into the Silver of the engine cover.
The start of the season.
Testing was a confusing time for the reigning Champions, the car was not reliable and not stable. It was a very Un-Mercedes test.
Gearbox issues hampered running during day 1, Lewis Hamilton struggled with rear stability, spinning twice during the three-day test.
With Redbull having a great and fast weekend, it has raised the question, will we have a battle between Mercedes and Redbull?
We can only hope…