Mercedes need A-game at Monza after Zandvoort ‘risks’

Jon Wilde
Lewis Hamilton in action on Saturday for Mercedes at Zandvoort. Netherlands, September 2021.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, in action on the Saturday of the Dutch Grand Prix. September 2021.

Toto Wolff admits Mercedes “didn’t put all the pieces together” at Zandvoort – and plans to bounce back in the Italian Grand Prix.

Mercedes could never quite master Max Verstappen at his home race, with Lewis Hamilton narrowly failing to snatch pole position from the darling of the Dutch crowd and also not managing to sustain a serious challenge for the race victory.

Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas finished second and third behind Verstappen, with the World Champion now trailing by three points in his quest for an eighth Drivers’ title – although Mercedes have a useful advantage of 12 in the Constructors’ standings.

Monza, however, is a happy hunting ground for Wolff’s team, who triumphed there five years in a row until the last two editions of the Italian Grand Prix which produced rather more unusual winners in Charles Leclerc and Pierre Gasly.

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“We have nine races to go in this Championship fight and the battle will only get more intense, but our mission is clear,” said Wolff in his team’s preview of the race.

“Last time out at Zandvoort, we simply didn’t put all the pieces together – we took some risks and gave it our best shot but it just wasn’t enough.

“A double podium brought us solid and useful points, extending our Constructors’ Championship advantage, but we know we need to be consistently bringing our A-game if we want to finish this season on top.

“As we visit Monza to finish this triple-header, we face a completely different track and challenge, which is exciting for all of us. It’s a historic and unique circuit, with the lowest downforce levels of the season and most of the lap spent at full throttle.

“It’s also the second race weekend with the Sprint Qualifying format, so that will add some extra spice to the mix too. We learned lessons on the new format at Silverstone and look forward to bringing that knowledge with us into this weekend.

“The atmosphere at Zandvoort was incredible and to have so many passionate fans engaged in this sport is great to see.

“While we won’t have as many fans at Monza, I’m sure the atmosphere will still be great and this track always delivers thrilling F1 races, so we look set for another fun weekend of on-track action.”

This is, of course, the first race since Mercedes confirmed their driver line-up for 2022, when George Russell will partner Hamilton while Bottas moves on to Alfa Romeo.

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Monza GP Preview

A quick preview for this weekend's Monza GP.