Time for those Mercedes F1 arrows to aim for more than just silver
PA Wire/Press Association Images
It’s almost alarming to think we are already a third of the way through the season – and in turn some of the interviews used to preview the campaign already sound a little funny. Firstly there’s Jenson Button asserting that he and Sergio Perez would work well as a new partnership at McLaren because they were “on the same wavelength”.
Good week, bad week
• Pole position – Mike O’Driscoll: Named Williams’ new chief executive – and he needs to get the team together quickly if they are to turn around a shocking start to 2013.
• Stalling – Ferrari: Having questioned Mercedes’ tyre test with Pirelli, Maranello is now having to answer their own questions over a test using a 2011 Ferrari after the race in Bahrain.
Another came from David Coulthard, stating that while Perez could revel in the delight of finishing second with Sauber, McLaren would see silver in a different light.
That sentiment has been put in its place by Button’s apparent euphoria at getting his MP4-28 into the occasional Q3.
And then there were the pre-season words uttered by the lips of another former McLaren man. Asked the obvious preview question as to whether Mercedes could compete with his old team, Lewis Hamilton took the chance to play it all down.
“McLaren is a fantastic team and I helped develop that car with them for the last six years, so I was part of the process of where they are,” said Hamilton. “They’re going to be great so to beat them is going to be a huge challenge, and if we beat them at all at some point in the year then that is going to be a huge positive for us.
"I think we are now knocking on the door of our first podium finish since 2009, and it’s time to do that all important step"
“But we are definitely not going to the first race thinking we are going to be challenging the McLarens. We’re going to hope to finish in the top 10 and if we finish higher than that, then it’s going to be great.”
The result from Melbourne – and what has followed – speaks volumes.
In fact, Mercedes are starting to deliver on what always promised to be a cracking driver line-up for the new year – at which point should probably come a warning.
Following his 2012 win in China, it felt like there could be some real momentum behind Nico Rosberg’s form. In the end, the car fell away in almost embarrassing fashion.
So while it would be a little naive to suggest his dominant display in Monaco could be a signal of more to come from the German, the fact Canada presents him with a major opportunity shouldn’t be ignored.
Yes, Monte Carlo’s track temperature and smoother circuit surface helped Mercedes preserve their tyres enough to dominate in the principality. But at the same time, the silver arrows are surely just a little bit of tyre-learning away from turning scintilating and consistent Saturday pace into a hefty wedge of points on a Sunday.
Either way, Rosberg is most definitely giving Hamilton a run for his money – in turn bringing some pretty unreasonable criticism for the Brit.
Team principal Ross Brawn’s backing – and almost plea for Lewis to be given time – will have reassured some.
But the fact Brawn felt it necessary is almost a pat on the back for Nico.
Both drivers like Montreal, especially Hamilton. Both are in a supremely quick car. And this time, they really could make inroads.
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