By SpannersReady - Written in association with Missed Apex F1 Podcast - We live F1. Please Listen after enjoying the article and please don't forget to comment.
So I’m no F1 tech expert but I play one on a podcast. Well... No actually I don’t. Anyone who has listened to the Missed Apex Podcasts knows - that despite an engineering background - it is the racing and the sport of it all that interests me; rather than the nuts and bolts of the engineering challenge.
But I do love the psychology and personality of the sport’s participants. One of the most intriguing balancing acts, in regards the F1 media, is the fantastic Toto Wolff. Let’s be honest, If that was me, I would have spent the entirety of the last 3 seasons jumping up and down and rubbing Mercedes dominance in everyone’s faces.
“Spanners, any word on how the season is going?”
“We have humiliated our opponents once again with our crushing dominance. Oh how their ancestors must weep with shame at their total lack of engineering ability. Tell their wives to head for the Merc garage to meet some real men. Woof.“
Of course this is likely a significant part of the reason that Toto is a Formula One team boss whereas I talk to a computer in a shed - begging people to listen to it.
Undoubtedly Toto (and Mercedes) take a far more measured approach, acting with total humility. They always show concern for the overall reputation of the sport, they make great pains to talk up the chances of their competitors and are very quick to heap praise on their drivers when they can.
Most recently Toto has now claimed the threat from Red Bull is very real – but this is nothing but spin. Mercedes do not believe that the result in Monaco shows anything other than the well anticipated fact that Red Bull would be (and subsequently proved) strong in the Principality.
However it’s the perfect opportunity for their well-practised and classic routine of playing down their advantage to shine. The German team attempted to promote Ferrari - as genuine contenders- earlier this season and if the Maranello squad had not continued messing up every possible tactical decision - they could have kept that ploy going a little longer.
But what of the ‘super’ new Tag-Renault engine. Look at the gap in performance between Dan and Max! Well no, we didn’t see much. The once smiling Aussie is a racer in his absolute prime pushing every ounce of talent towards his ultimate goal. The Max we saw in Monaco was raw talent meeting a giant test in a changeable Monaco.
I don’t put Max down for that poor weekend as much as I didn’t elevate him to God status in Barcelona. We haven’t seen what the new engine can do yet. Let’s see how it does in Canada where the extra push will be more clearly evident.
If Red Bull is level with Mercedes at the end of the Canadian GP weekend it will be nothing short of a miracle. I’ve heard a lot that Red Bull has this amazing chassis if only they had the horses to match. You only need to look at KMag’s pace compared to any Red Bull to see that Renault with the same engine can’t match the Red Bull package. But this type of talk assumes one thing. That the Red Bull chassis is the equal of the Merc or better. I wouldn’t be so sure.
If Mercedes thought they had a significantly better chassis than Red Bull they wouldn’t tell us. That would kill their media tactic of making us think they are under threat. But why wouldn’t the Merc chassis be amazing. They have the cold hard cash to throw man hours at it.
They are streets ahead of Force India and Williams who run the Mercedes power unit and they have shown they have plenty in hand. In Russia they had a new front wing but they didn’t use it – there was no call for its use as of yet. Compare this to a desperate Renault who brought forward an engine upgrade by two weeks on the least power dependant track of the year.
As far as the season goes, Monaco is only a good indication of Monaco.
I don’t believe this power unit is the golden ticket people are saying it is. If it gets them past Ferrari they can be very proud. But if it puts them on pole this weekend in Montreal I will be Stunned. I will be happy and excited for the championship but I will be stunned. The story of the season is still Hamilton’s challenge to catch up to Nico which I believe he will do. If Red Bull can do enough to mix it up, just a little, then F1 will be all the better. But make no mistake. Mercedes has plenty in the bag and this is going to, once again, be their year.