Why Mercedes isn't fooled it's ahead of Red Bull after F1 practice
After a comprehensive defeat to Red Bull and Max Verstappen in Austria last weekend, Mercedes remains wary of taking its promising pace as a guarantee for success. But with lessons learned from the Styrian GP, the Black Arrows squad continues to be poised for another almighty tussle against its familiar foe
It isn’t that long ago that Lewis Hamilton nearly won the 2021 French Grand Prix.
Although the relentless pace of Formula 1’s latest triple-header means the event at Paul Ricard feels like it was in another lifetime for some, it was only two weeks ago. There, Max Verstappen’s win was a statement victory at what was previously a clear Mercedes stronghold. But the Black Arrows drivers had put him under severe pressure when running the same strategy – and Mercedes might have won had it not been caught out by the undercut power at the first pitstops and then Red Bull seizing the initiative to win on an unexpected two-stopper.
But Verstappen’s victory in last weekend’s Styrian GP was different.
He had won three times in the five races held at the Red Bull Ring before 2021, and Mercedes had had misfortune at its rival’s home track in recent years, but this was “the first race really in eight years where you’re just lacking the pace” – per Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff following Verstappen going 4-3 up versus Hamilton in wins this season.
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Grand Prix practice results: Hamilton fastest in Austria F1
Austrian Grand Prix qualifying – Start time, how to watch, channel