Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko says a performance like we saw from Mercedes in Monaco happens when they are put under pressure.
It was a miserable weekend in Monte Carlo on both sides of the Mercedes garage and it was enough to see the reigning World Champions knocked off both top spots in the respective World Championship standings.
A front-right wheel nut that refused to budge saw Valtteri Bottas’ promising afternoon come to a very abrupt end, while a very critical Lewis Hamilton did not look in contention for the race win all week long.
His misery was compounded by a strategy that ultimately ensured no progress could be made from his P7 starting spot.
And, after the race, Marko said these scenarios do happen at Mercedes when they are feeling the heat from another close competitor.
"It just feels awful…" 😠 A word from the Boss in Monaco. 👇 pic.twitter.com/6v5OYjLvKD
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) May 23, 2021
“Max has reached a different level of maturity,” Marko is quoted as having told Servus TV.
“We were also surprised that Hamilton stayed behind Gasly more or less without a fight.
“When there is pressure, Mercedes makes mistakes.”
Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, was asked for a response to that final remark made by Marko and said that pressure is something that the team embrace.
“No, I find it great,” Wolff said via Sky Germany.
“More pressure. At the end we see who has withstood the pressure best.”
Red Bull boss Christian Horner, meanwhile, was slightly more reserved in his reaction to what could be a major flashpoint in this fascinating 2021 campaign.
“Mercedes had a rare off-day and it was important to convert that,” said Horner.
“As a team we’ve done that, we leave here leading both championships for the first time in the hybrid era.
“Nobody’s getting carried away, there’s still an awfully long way to go in the championship.
“To be as close as we are at this stage is very encouraging.”
Heading into round six in Baku, Max Verstappen holds a four-point lead over Hamilton, while Red Bull are a point ahead of Mercedes at the top of the Constructors’ Championship.
The two title rivals could well find themselves fighting off the track as well as on it Azerbaijan, with Wolff saying that protests could be lodged against each other over the ongoing wing saga which could play a defining role in this titanic tussle.