Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton have a commanding lead in the 2020 F1 World Championship. However, they state that they still view Red Bull and other rivals as a threat this year, and – as such – will continue to push.
We’re only three rounds into the 2020 F1 season, and already, Red Bull have been written off as a serious threat to Mercedes, or even a major factor in the fight for the world championship. This, after being tipped to be the favorites – at least in the opening rounds of the calendar which traditionally suits them.
In the first race of the year, the team failed to meet expectations, but this was not due to pace, as both cars failed to finish the Grand Prix. This less-than-ideal result was dismissed as a reliability fluke, but Styria saw both Red Bull’s distantly trail the Mercedes drivers, and their showing in Hungary was not much better.
As it stands, Mercedes are invariably the front-running team in this F1 season, but in the eyes of Hamilton, their main competitors – such as Red Bull – remain a big threat. The Mercedes F1 driver’s reasoning for believing this is sound, as he states that the Austrian outfit will likely improve as the season progresses, and as such, he and his team will continue to push.
Thus far, the upgrades of their adversary have seemingly gone in the wrong direction, but the risk remains for Mercedes that they will be outdone in the development race. He adds that this risk prevents the championship from becoming a procession.
“We’re working our arse off, and we’re going to continue to do that,” said Hamilton. “Look, I mean, I don’t know what’s going to happen over these next races. Would I like more battle from other teams? Absolutely. I think the Red Bulls have been doing a great job and I’m sure at some stage they’re going to make some improvements as we get into the season. The race in Hungary that we had last year, for example, was fantastic, and I enjoy particularly battling with other teams.
“I did expect the Red Bulls to be very, very strong at Hungaroring but I’m not quite sure what happened through qualifying, what it might be but, again, in the race, they definitely were stronger. But I think it was a pretty flawless effort from our team. In all areas, really delivered. I think it was a little bit difficult for sure to compete when you are bringing that 100 per cent.
“But I’m hopeful we will still find some challenges up ahead. So, we shall see,” said Hamilton, whose Mercedes boss Wolff, too, stressed that the championship remains relatively tight. The Austrian pointed out that the gap between Hamilton (63) and Max Verstappen (33) is only 30 points.
This a margin that could almost entirely be diminished if a DNF were to strike Hamilton, and Verstappen were to win, as Wolff pointed out. Notably, however, the gap between Mercedes and Red Bull is much greater, with the former having bagged 121 points this season – 66 more than Red Bull, who have gotten only 55.
“I’m not sure I’ve seen the competition fall apart,” said Wolff. “You can see that Red Bull was struggling all through the weekend, and then they had a pretty decent race car, a car that didn’t look like it could start and the mechanics did a really awesome job in the car there. The gaps are nothing.
“If you look at the drivers’ points standings, it’s 30 points after three races that we have with Lewis to Max, so you have one DNF, and the gap is gone. You just need to keep going,” said Wolff, who added on whether or not Mercedes are still reaping the benefits of long-ago made decisions with their dominant W11.
“I think it’s never one thing, if it’s is the aerodynamic concept right, or was the engine development done with the right strategies,” said Wolff. “It’s a multitude of points that come together, different aspects coming together, it’s the investment in the right resource, it’s the amount of innovation that we’re able to extract from our research and development. Fundamentally it all comes down to the people of Mercedes that are in charge.
“We have seen over the years that generation after generation have come up, have taken responsibility and accountability and have added to the team’s performance, and it is not only on the engineering side which we talk all the time, but it’s in every single area. It’s marketing, it’s communications, it’s social media, it’s sponsorship, and this is what makes the team more successful I believe. Nevertheless, we mustn’t be carried away with thinking that we are the greatest, because then you start quickly losing,” said the Mercedes head.
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