Losing has ‘wiped complacency’ out of Mercedes

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen leads Mercedes. Netherlands September 2021.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen leads the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas with Lewis Hamilton behind. Netherlands September 2021.

Losing to Red Bull in the title race, and in their number of wins, Andy Shovlin says that “certainly wipes any complacency” out of Mercedes’ system.

While Mercedes have pretty much had it their own way since 2014, the year Formula 1 switched to turbocharged V6 engines, this year the numbers are telling a very different story.

Although Mercedes went into the 2021 season with seven championship doubles on the trot, and the odds on favourites to take an eighth, it is Red Bull, and more notably Max Verstappen, who have emerged as the ones to beat.

The Dutchman has seven race wins and a three-point lead over Lewis Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship.

Hamilton, in sharp contrast to the last five years, has four race wins to his name and just 221.5 points, his lowest tally after 13 races since 2014.

Mercedes are determined to bring the numbers back in their favour, starting with this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.

Hamilton is a five-time Monza winner, four of those coming with Mercedes.

“Our cars have worked well [at Monza] over the years,” said Mercedes trackside engineering director Shovlin.

“It’s a track that we have been strong at and I think it’s a drag level that we have seen our car work reasonably well at.

“In Spa, the indications on Friday in the dry were that we were looking really good on both single lap and long runs.

“But we are under no illusion that it will be a challenge and I think losing certainly wipes any complacency out of your system.”

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Shovlin believes this year Red Bull, who last won at Monza back in 2013, will pose a stiff threat to Hamilton, saying Mercedes will be made to work for it.

“We are not going to walk into Monza expecting that we can just do our normal thing and walk away with a win,” he added.

“We are expecting to really have to work for it and we are expecting to have to get everything right.

“We will be putting all our efforts into preparing for that because the goal and the target are to go there and get back in the lead of both championships.”