Mercedes could not repeat the good performance from Barcelona in Monaco. Ferrari and Red Bull drove in a different league. In the race, Fernando Alonso also caused frustration in the Silver Arrow camp.
Even before the Monaco weekend, the Mercedes engineers had expressed their fear that a major challenge awaited the Principality. So far, slow turns have not been the Silver Arrow's preferred territory. But in the end it turned out to be even worse than expected. The bumps on the traditional street circuit caught the works team completely on the wrong foot. The pilots hopped helplessly across the asphalt.
Because the Mercedes had to be set up hard and low in order not to drive out of the aerodynamics window, every little unevenness in the asphalt penetrated into the cockpit. "It's never been as bad as the bumps here," said Lewis Hamilton. "My jaw and teeth were constantly chattering. I hope it will get better in the next races. I don't feel like shaking anymore."
The restless driving behavior also affected the pace. George Russell was seven and a half tenths short of Charles Leclerc's best time in qualifying. However, the Brit won the internal duel against Hamilton for the fourth time with sixth place on the grid. And in the race too, the newcomer to the factory racing team finished three positions ahead of his teammate.
Wolff complains about the Monaco layout
Although Russell is already 34 points ahead of Hamilton, team boss Toto Wolff doesn't believe his youngster has an advantage in terms of pace. "Lewis has had a lot of bad luck recently: the red flag in qualifying, the collision with Esteban (Ocon) in the race and then he's stuck behind Fernando (Alonso). I think the pendulum will swing the other way again and these unfortunate ones Situations stop for Lewis. Both drivers are at a similar pace. And they are working well together to put the car in front."
After the race, Wolff was particularly annoyed that Hamilton couldn't overtake Alonso's Alpine despite a clear advantage in speed: "If a car can just drive five seconds slower and stop everyone, then you have to think about the layout. We We have to avoid it becoming a procession, a strategy game or a qualifying race. Fernando's pace was on par with a Formula 2 car."
Wolff didn't have the perfect solution to the problem either, although he lives in Monaco and knows the streets in the Principality. "I can hardly imagine what you can do differently. The tunnel is already fast. Maybe you could remove the chicane behind it. But then you would have to create a harder braking point in the Tabac corner."But taking the classic off the calendar completely isn't an alternative either: "Formula 1 needs Monaco, and Monaco needs Formula 1."
Hamilton didn't see Alonso's blockade as bad. The frustration was not too bad. "That's Monaco," shrugged the vice world champion. Hamilton also knows the other side of the coin. In the 2019 season, he had to use the strolling tactic himself because of an early pit stop. He excessively managed the tires, kept his pursuers clever in check and was rewarded with victory in the end.
Mercedes progress not recognizable
The frustration of everyone involved about the poor pace of the car is greater. Especially for team boss Wolff: "We are the third fastest team. If nothing happens up front, fifth place is the best possible result. Of course it's nice when you dust off a podium. But we don't want to be given anything. We want to be up front under our own steam."
Wolff described the position of Mercedes in the balance of power as no man's land. There is not much danger from behind. But there is currently nothing going forward either. "The gap to Ferrari and Red Bull has remained the same. If you're optimistic, we're five tenths down, if you're pessimistic, we're eight tenths down. That's not acceptable."
Russell has already identified the car's weak points: "Above all, we need more downforce. The slow corners are our sore point. In the fast corners and on the straights we were in front in Barcelona. To do that, we have to get even better in qualifying. We can't afford it if we have a McLaren or an Alpine in front of us."
No time for a concept change yet
Some experts already doubt that Mercedes will be able to get the radical Silver Arrow with its narrow sidepods to work. But according to Wolff, it is it's not yet time to think about a concept change: "If you want to change the concept, you first have to understand what a faster concept would look like. If we knew that, we would have done it long ago."
The engineers still believe that the current package can be improved with upgrades and more understanding. "If the gap to the front doesn't narrow anyway and we have the feeling that we have to change something for next year, then we will make this difficult decision at some point. But we haven't gotten to that point yet," said Wolff.