Formula 1 | When Leclerc and Verstappen thought Mercedes F1 was “faring”

Did Mercedes F1 get angry at the winter tests in Barcelona and Bahrain? The answer now seems obvious given the first Grand Prix of the year: no, the German team was really in trouble, especially with the porpoise of their W13.

But still, some, from social media to F1 paddocks, were convinced that Mercedes was making a beacon.

We could certainly find arguments for them: in the past, especially in 2017 or 2021, Mercedes had said it had difficulties in the winter tests before winning the inaugural Grand Prix.

A little step back…

Ferrari very skeptical

Among the skeptics, we first found the Ferrari camp. Whether for not putting the label of true favorite to Ferrari, or for real conviction, or for these two reasons, Carlos Sainz was one of the most skeptical when Lewis Hamilton said that his Mercedes was fighting in all areas .

“If it was the first year they did it, maybe I would believe them” he said on March 11, 2022 amid the Bahrain trials.

Carlos Sainz even summoned GPS data to support his statements!

“But they’ve been doing it for five or six years now and they’ve been surprising us since the first race, so as you can imagine, I don’t think so. With GPS you can also see what they are doing, and I won’t say more. I think it’s the typical Mercedes, the typical George. Just exaggerate the others, then come to the first race and lift the competition, which is typical. »

Charles Leclerc also, perhaps less explicitly, believed that Mercedes had not shown it all then: “At the moment we don’t see bad lap times, but lap times that mean nothing. I’m sure Mercedes and Red Bull have a lot more to come and are now hiding a lot of their game. »

The story was not much different from Mattia Binotto (statements of March 15): “Red Bull has a very strong car, but we must not forget Mercedes. They will have their rebound problem under control, as they solved their problems last year. I trust them. »

Verstappen mocked Hamilton’s statements

At Red Bull, the attitude was a little more ambivalent.

On the one hand, Helmut Marko had assured that even the Mercedes with 0 pontoons from Bahrain did not scare him: “We looked more at the performance in this second test and it wasn’t that impressive at Mercedes. What Mercedes brought looks revolutionary. But what matters is the lap time. And the most important thing is that we are the fastest again. »

But on the other hand, a bit like Carlos Sainz, Max Verstappen was more skeptical with the sincerity of Lewis Hamilton, George Russell and others (statements of March 12, 2022). While wondering how Mercedes could farfar with this porpoise (the answer was to the question).

“It is difficult to judge others. Some teams will still have improvements before the first race. It looks like Mercedes hasn’t found the magic wand with its pontoons, they have a horrible porpoise and you can’t hide that. But they are a great team and I am sure that at some point they will be in the game. »

“It’s always the same story with them. Lewis is not seen winning. And when a team goes a little better, they are no longer the favorites. We move fast, in a week: ‘Oh, we’ve managed to fix everything, it’s not normal, congratulations to everyone in the factory for this amazing job’. Last year they did the same to us and won the first Grand Prix. In short, I don’t think so “, he concluded, angry.

History will have really demonstrated the reason of the field of those who believed that Mercedes was really in trouble. Some statements have aged badly!

The positive side of the thing is that in 2023, who knows, Mercedes will be less likely to be discovered if they really hit the spotlight …

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