The question is that this Formula 1 winter is louder than ever: will there finally be a title fight between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton this year? According to experts, the signals for a championship battle are promising: “Mercedes’s problems were not played out.”
Never before has a team been dominant in Formula 1 for as long as Mercedes has been in recent years. Since the major rule changes in 2014, the ‘Silver Arrows’ took all the world titles that could be won. Of those seven titles, six went to Hamilton, who therefore tied the score in championships with record holder Michael Schumacher last year.
“It is extremely important for Formula 1 that there is a title fight just this year,” said Scott Mitchell, journalist for the British. The Race. “Formula 1 will only implement rule changes next year that will narrow the differences between the teams, but Formula 1 really cannot afford to let this season pass.”
“Last year we enjoyed the battle behind the top teams, but of course that is not the point for the general public. The ordinary fan wants to see a fight for the win and the championship.”
2021 also seemed to be a Mercedes season in advance, but since the test days, the prominent figures from the Formula 1 world are no longer so sure. Unlike in previous years, Mercedes faced problems during the preparations for the season in Bahrain. Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas’ W12 looked unpredictable and went off the track several times.
Lewis Hamilton parks his Mercedes in the gravel during one of the test days in Bahrain.
Test Red Bull went smoothly
On the other hand, there was a flawless winter test by Red Bull Racing. It ensured that the Mercedes camp, led by team boss Toto Wolff, tried to shift the favorite role emphatically towards the energy drink manufacturer.
According to Mitchell, Mercedes actually had problems during the test days. “It didn’t look like Mercedes was trying to hide the power of the car by driving with a lot of fuel on board,” Mitchell said.
“The problems were real and it was not over. My colleagues and I told each other during the test days that it seemed as if Red Bull and Mercedes had switched cars last winter. It could be that the concept of the Mercedes does not fit well with each other. the aerodynamic changes that have been made. ”
The big question now is whether Mercedes can solve the problems in two weeks. Mitchell: “During the 2019 tests, it took Mercedes three days to understand the car. On the fourth day of testing, they suddenly knew what the car was doing and then it became another dominant season. That may also be the case this year.”
Max Verstappen experienced flawless preparation for the new season in Bahrain.
‘Signals are very good in advance’
Yet many Formula 1 experts have the feeling that there will actually be a title fight between Hamilton and Verstappen this year. “The signals are very good in advance,” analyzes Ho-Pin Tung, who was a test driver for Renault’s Formula 1 team in 2009.
“And then I’m not just talking about the test days. We know that Honda has built a completely new engine and we also know that Verstappen finished strong last year. He not only won the last race in Abu Dhabi, but he had the Grands Prix. before that in Bahrain also about a fast car. ”
“But don’t forget that there are 23 Grands Prix on the calendar this year. It is the longest season ever. In Bahrain, the championship has not yet been decided.”
Max Verstappen won the last race of the season in Abu Dhabi last year.
‘Formula 1 has been waiting for this for years’
According to Mitchell, the coming Formula 1 year could go into the history books if there actually is a title battle between Verstappen and Hamilton. “Imagine that the Mercedes and Red Bull cars would be about equivalent”, he dreams aloud.
“Then we get a fight between a super talent and one of the best drivers of all time. Formula 1 has been waiting for this for years. A title fight between two teammates is fun, but the scenario that is now on the table could become legendary. . ”
The first free practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix starts on Friday at 12.30 p.m. Qualifying takes place on Saturday at 4 p.m. and on Sunday at 5 p.m. the first race of the season will take place.
Source site www.nu.nl