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Formula 1 | Mercedes boss admits “misjudgment”

In 2021, Mercedes missed a world title for the first time since the beginning of the hybrid era in Formula 1. Max Verstappen was crowned the first non-Mercedes world champion since Sebastian Vettel in 2013 in Abu Dhabi. Toto Wolff now admits that Mercedes did not necessarily expect the title series to break in 2021.

“We believed that with the incision on [Unter-]Ground in front of the rear wheels,” he says in an interview with “auto motor und sport” with regard to the rule change before the 2021 season. The team boss admits: “With the lead we had in 2020, we thought we could compensate for that .”

In 2020 Mercedes had won 13 of the 17 races of the season and clinched both world titles. “We saw it as a kind of challenge. That was a misjudgment,” Wolff admits in retrospect and explains: “During the test drives, we noticed how much we were left behind.”

W12 better understood in the end

Mercedes was able to win the 2021 season opener in Bahrain. However, Red Bull already seemed to have the slightly faster car back then. “I’m guessing that us [die Regeländerung im Vergleich zu Red Bull] cost a second,” said Wolff. Mercedes was able to keep the fight for the championship exciting until the last race.

However, the dominance of previous years was gone. At one point in the season, Red Bull even won five races in a row between Monaco and Spielberg, which is why it was a great achievement for Wolff to even be able to fight for the title all the way to Abu Dhabi. “We have our car [im Laufe der Saison] better understood,” he explains.

“Our set-up was better and we had less tire wear. That was also reflected in the race results,” said the Austrian with regard to the second half of last season. However, the basic weaknesses of the W12 could not be eliminated for various reasons.

Wolff no longer expects to go it alone

This was partly due to the fact that Mercedes stopped developing the car at a certain point in time in order to concentrate completely on the new regulations from 2022. “I believe that the budget cap will adjust a lot,” explains Wolff with regard to the new cars.

“If someone finds a loophole and runs away with it, everyone will copy it,” he predicts and explains: “The cars will all be very similar. There can still be differences in the first year. After that, it will even out. It will no longer be a team give that drives a second ahead.”

It remains to be seen whether Wolff’s forecast is correct – or whether he will later speak of a “misjudgment”. From a Mercedes point of view, however, that could be a positive thing. Namely, if the silver arrows of the competition should drive around the ears again from 2022…

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