Mercedes below ‘championship-winning’ level

Jamie Woodhouse

Mercedes not operating at "championship-winning" level.

Mercedes’ Andrew Shovlin admits the team are not currently operating at a level high enough to win the 2021 titles.

For a time, it seemed Mercedes had put a lid on the threat from Red Bull, winning three of the opening four races, but since then there has been a complete shift in momentum.

The German outfit have taken only seven points across the two races since, allowing Max Verstappen to become leader of the Drivers’ Championship, while Red Bull are 26 points clear in the Constructors’.

There are no excuses coming from the Mercedes camp though, with their trackside engineering director Shovlin admitting their current form is not of the level required to become champions again, following seven years of dominance in the Drivers’ and Constructors’ standings.

“The bigger issue we have to deal with is that in the last two races we haven’t been good enough,” he said after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

“Not fast enough, we’ve made mistakes, we struggle to switch the tyres on and we’ve been on the back foot through free practice.

“We know the level it takes to win championships and we are not at that level right now, so we need to regroup and come back performing the way we know we can.

“We have the team, the car and the drivers to win this, but we need to be tough and honest with ourselves over the next few days. We’ve had days like that before and each time we’ve come back strong and we’ll look to do that in France.”

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Monaco and Baku were strange races for Mercedes in which a lack of pace cost one driver, while for the other it was the result of an error.

Lewis Hamilton was nowhere near his best form in Monaco, crossing the line P7 after a difficult weekend, while Valtteri Bottas was running P2 in that race until a problem with a wheel nut at his pit-stop forced him to retire.

Then in Baku it was Bottas completely devoid of pace, finishing outside the points, while Hamilton accidentally altered his brakes and went off as he challenged Sergio Perez for the lead.

After recovering from the Turn 1 escape road, he finished the Azerbaijan GP in P15.

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