By Myanna Wedes
The debut race in Bahrain was a very positive one considering all the issues that Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 have encountered both at testing and in the first practice sessions plus qualifying. To see Lewis Hamilton finish on the podium is a real boost of confidence though the workload between now and the next Grand Prix is going to be intense. George Russell had a superb debut race working with his new team and wants more which is normal of someone at his age and in a premium F1 car.
The factory will be working around the clock to ensure they solve the porpoising challenges the car has been experiencing down the main straights. When you watch Hamilton, you can see his head moving around a lot and this can be quite troublesome losing out to those who have quality downforce. The goal is clear and that is to keep progressing at a rapid rate with so many of the teams showcasing the strength of their investment to be ready for the 2022 season. It is going to take a few races to get the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 car up to scratch and the likes of McLaren can say the exact same.
What we did notice is that both drivers regardless of the doubt going into the race applied themselves exceptionally well. Within two to four races, we should see Mercedes-AMG Petronas improve on their issues and actually feel more comfortable. In 2022, the racing is supposed to be elbow to elbow so let us see what unfolds with Hamilton and Russell. What we do know is that Russell is far better at driving where he is now than where he was in order to develop the car, improve and support his teammate.
The fact that Mercedes-AMG Petronas finished and both Oracle Red Bull Racing cars did not will be a sweet taste for the team as they know their rivals were lining up to have a sensational debut Grand Prix.
“A big, big congratulations to Ferrari, I’m so happy to see them doing well again, they are such a historic and epic team. It was a difficult race for us today, we’ve struggled throughout practice and this is really the best result we could have got. Of course it was unfortunate for the other two drivers but we did the best we could and we are grateful for these points. I know the guys are working really hard back at the factory and it is not going to be a quick turnaround but we’ve been the best unified team for so long, we all know to just keep your head down, keep working, there’s a long way to go. We’ve got to maximise our weekends and at some point, we’ll be back in the fight.“
“It was a positive race, I made a good start and then Lewis and I were on a race of our own, albeit on different strategies. We came home with a P3 and P4 for the team which we would have definitely taken prior to the weekend so in a long championship, we can be pleased with how today went. Considering we’re half a second behind in qualifying and probably the same, if not more, on race pace, it was a good damage limitation weekend. There’s a lot of potential in the car and we really need to dig down into the data and understand how to extract the performance. We recognise our rivals are a long way ahead of us, we know what the overall limitations of the car are, and we won’t settle until we have the chance of the win.”
The dynamic duo of Hamilton and Russell is sure to bring on some epic battles as the Ferrari duo of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz make magic on track already with a 1-2 finish. Both teams have two classy drivers to support the goals and actually work together. We have seen Sergio Perez support Max Verstappen although the spicy Mexcian is sure to want his own success before it’s too late and he ends up just as a support network for the bigger picture being Verstappen. If history is anything to go by, Verstappen runs that team and equal treatment is not an ideal scenario when you have invested all your eggs in one basket.
With a few races coming up, the tides will change and Mercedes-AMG Petronas wants to be on the right side of the current rather than being dragged down the order.
We will be watching on to see how their car transforms, driver feedback and how they perform session to session in order to determine if the porpoising issues subside. The aerodynamics are the area of trouble. All of this will go hand in hand with retaining Hamilton because middle to back of the pack finishes are not in his DNA anymore. He is a multi-World Champion for a reason and that is because he is fast, calculated, talented, strong, fierce and focused.